Fulham inched towards Premiership survival with a nervy draw against Uefa Cup hopefuls Blackburn.
Montella justified his recall with Fulham's goal
Vincenzo Montella put Fulham ahead from close range after Papa Bouba Diop headed a Simon Davies corner goalwards.
But Rovers piled on the pressure and Liam Rosenior almost turned a David Bentley cross into his own net while Jason Roberts also went close.
McCarthy then smashed a shot against the bar before levelling after a fine run and cross from Stephen Warnock.
But Blackburn boss Mark Hughes will be stunned by his side's failure to claim all three points from a game they controlled for large periods.
A win would have kept alive Rovers slim hopes of claiming a European spot and the draw is far more useful to Lawrie Sanchez in his quest to steer Fulham away from the drop zone.
The point takes them above Wigan and although West Ham won, Charlton and Sheffield United drew so Fulham stay three points clear of the bottom three with just three matches to play.
The home side struck first when Davies' outswinging corner was met by Diop and fortuitously turned in by Montella from close range.
The little Italian - recalled in favour of Heidar Helguson - mistimed his attempted flick but the ball spun into the top corner off his knee.
Blackburn responded with a couple of long-range free-kicks from the impressive Morten Gamst Pedersen, the first sailed over from 30 yards but the second forced a fine save from Antii Niemi.
But Rovers' best chance of the first period fell the way of home defender Rosenior, who got himself in a mess trying to deal with Bentley's searching diagonal ball into the box.
Rosenior, under pressure from Pedersen, tried to head the ball out for a corner but only succeeded in hitting his own post from six yards.
Some abysmal marking in the Fulham defence then allowed Roberts to run through on goal but although he dinked the ball over Niemi, Zat Knight raced back to clear off the line.
A rare Fulham attack then produced a fantastic reaction save from the ever dependable Brad Friedel.
Diop's shot was heading well wide but Michael Brown back-heeled the ball towards goal and the American keeper did superbly to keep the score at 1-0.
Rovers, prompted by Bentley and with the pace and power of Roberts and guile of McCarthy to the fore, were on top and unlucky not be level at the break.
And the visitors' dominance continued in the early stages of the second half as they created two glorious chances.
First McCarthy unleashed a superb 20-yard half-volley which crashed back off the bar and Niemi made a fine double save to deny Pedersen on the rebound.
And then Christopher Samba, who looked far from confident with the ball at his feet eight yards from goal, blazed wildly over with his right foot after Fulham failed to clear a corner.
Aaron Mokoena also saw a shot deflected just over but Rovers were not to be denied and finally equalised when Warnock roamed down the left flank and pulled the ball back to McCarthy who side-footed in from six yards.
McCarthy soon had the ball in the net again but was rightly flagged offside and both McCarthy and Pedersen almost snatched the points with fierce low drives late on.
Brown also squandered a fine breakaway chance for Fulham and Knight headed narrowly wide in injury time.
Fulham manager Lawrie Sanchez:
"It's disappointing we couldn't get a win but with three games to go we are in a little group of six down at the bottom and we are top of it. That is not so bad.
"We've had just 10 days to prepare what I want here and despite the second half there are a lot of positives.
"The players know me now and know that if they don't do what I ask them to do for me then somebody else will be given the chance."
Blackburn boss Mark Hughes:
"We are scratching our heads about how we didn't win. We created numerous chances and were completely dominant in the second half.
"But the boys have come back well after an emotional week. Going out of the FA Cup was a hard experience as was going out of the UEFA Cup earlier this season.
"But we showed the character to bounce back against Watford in midweek and this is another point. I think we have to win all our remaining games now to get into the UEFA Cup again.
Fulham: Niemi, Rosenior, Knight, Christanval (Volz 76), Bocanegra, Davies, Brown, Diop, Radzinski (Dempsey 83), Montella (Routledge 72), McBride.
Subs Not Used: Lastuvka, Helguson.
Goals: Montella 10.
Blackburn: Friedel, Emerton, Samba, Nelsen, Warnock, Bentley, Mokoena, Dunn, Pedersen, Roberts, McCarthy.
Subs Not Used: Brown, Khizanishvili, Kerimoglu, Gallagher, Derbyshire.
Goals: McCarthy 61.
Ref: G Poll (Hertfordshire).