Torres draws blank as Fulham frustrate Chelsea
Fernando Torres again failed to impress as Chelsea were held to a 0-0 draw by Fulham on Monday in the West London derby, dpa reported.
Chelsea dominated for long spells but very nearly lost, with Petr Cech saving a last-minute penalty from Clint Dempsey.
The draw leaves Chelsea fifth, two points behind Tottenham Hotspur in the fourth Champions League qualifying position, and 12 points behind leaders Manchester United with 12 games of the season remaining.
"For the title this point is too little," Cech admitted. "Mathematically it is not over, but obviously we are quite far yet, and we will fight 'til the end."
Fulham, meanwhile, are 12th, four points clear of the relegation zone.
"We were chasing the game, we tried to get the winning goal, and in the last few minutes it was up and down stuff," said Cech.
"Anybody could have got the goal. In the end we are happy to take a point because when you concede a penalty anything can happen. I think it was a good performance, very solid. It was just a pity that in the final third we missed a little bit to score a goal."
After the failure of the diamond midfield in the 1-0 defeat to Liverpool last week, Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti opted for a return to 4-3-3, which meant Didier Drogba being left out for Torres.
"They can play together; it depends on the game, but sometimes we need to use the width of the pitch as we did today," Ancelotti explained.
"(Torres) has to work with the team to know our style of play. His performance for 60 minutes was good, but he was not lucky."
Torres, though, having looked out of sorts on his debut after his 50-million-pound (80.2-million-dollar) move from Liverpool, was little better at Craven Cottage.
When David Luiz, another deadline-day signing, picked him out with a clever lofted pass just before half-time, Torres miscontrolled badly, allowing Mark Schwarzer to gather.
The only other chance of a first half higher on tenacity than quality was a mishit Nicolas Anelka cross that Schwarzer did well to tip over.
Surprisingly, when a change was made after 64 minutes, it was Anelka rather than Torres who was withdrawn, and Salomon Kalou rather than Drogba who came on.
Six minutes later, Torres did depart, and Drogba made his entrance.
Chelsea had more of the ball and the territorial advantage in the second half, but there was little in terms of goalmouth incident.
Luiz put a decent headed chance over, and Michael Essien couldn't quite get sufficient purchase on another header as the pressure became increasingly concerted. Not for the first time recently, Chelsea looked a side short of both dynamism and guile.
Fulham's massed defence, though, held out, and then, in the final minute of injury-time, Luiz tripped Dempsey to concede a penalty.
The US midfielder, though, hit his spot-kick straight at Cech, and Chelsea survived with a point.