Aleksandar Mitrovic rescued a point for Fulham at Derby as Wayne Rooney marked his 500th appearance in English league football by scoring a Panenka penalty.
The Championship’s top scorer coolly volleyed in Aboubakar Kamara’s cross for his 22nd goal of the season to lift Fulham within two points of second-placed Leeds in the race for promotion.
It had looked like former England captain Rooney would take the headlines when he calmly clipped the ball past Fulham keeper Marek Rodak from the spot to give the Rams the lead after Tim Ream had been penalised for handball.
But, despite chances at both ends, neither team could find a winner, with Rodak making a number of fine saves to keep his side in the game.
Rodak’s mistakes had been to blame for the Whites’ surprise 3-0 home defeat by Barnsley last weekend but boss Scott Parker kept faith with the Slovakian keeper and was rewarded with a superb display as he saved six of Derby’s seven on-target efforts.
With Rooney behind much of the Rams’ best work, Rodak reacted superbly to keep out a flicked effort from Tom Lawrence and a shot by Matt Clarke on the stretch, before later pushing an angled Lawrence drive around the post.
He was only beaten when Rooney cheekily chipped in his penalty after Ream was adjudged to have used his hand to prevent Martyn Waghorn from going through.
However, after Mitrovic’s opportunistic equaliser, Rodak then prevented Derby from finding a winner with a brilliant diving stop to keep out Max Bird’s drive from 12 yards before diving backwards to palm away a late bundling effort by Curtis Davies from close range.
Fulham had chances to win it too with Bobby Decordova-Reid flashing an effort across the six-yard box, while substitute Ivan Cavaleiro curled a powerful shot narrowly over from 18 yards.
However, their failure to secure all three points hands Leeds the chance to open up a five-point lead over one of their promotion rivals when they entertain Reading on Saturday.
A second successive home 1-1 draw also does little for Derby’s hopes of staging a late run to the play-offs, with the Rams now eight points off a top-six spot having now played a game more than the sides above them.
Article courtesy of BBC Sport