First clean sheet boosts Ranieri's Fulham

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The match at St James' Park saw neither side create a clear goal-scoring opportunity, with the defensive improvement for Fulham one positive to emerge, after it failed to shut out an opponent over the first 17 games of the campaign.

Newcastle continues to struggle at home and in general in front of goal, but does at least extend its advantage over the bottom three to five points after Burnley's defeat at Arsenal.

Against his former club, Aleksandar Mitrovic had an early shot saved by Martin Dubravka, before a Jamaal Lascelles header bounced off the striker at the other end and was hacked away from the line by Denis Odoi.

Dubravka gathered Jean Michael Seri's free-kick towards the end of a drab first half where neither side created a clear chance to score.

Mitrovic sent a poor finish straight at Dubravka just after the restart, while Salomon Rondon had a penalty claim turned down after being bundled over by Alfie Mawson.

The first substitution did not come until Rafael Benitez introduced Kenedy with 18 minutes remaining, and the wing-back had another home penalty appeal denied after tussling with Joe Bryan.

Fabian Schar then sent a header just over, but Fulham came closest to a late winner as Mitrovic, fed by Aboubakar Kamara, had an effort dramatically blocked by a sliding Lascelles, the visitors' claims for handball ignored at the end of a second period that saw neither keeper troubled.

Newcastle has an attractive-looking festive fixture away to league leader Liverpool on 27 December (AEDT), the same day as Fulham hosts Wolverhampton Wanderers.