Bolo Zenden squeezes a shot past Mark Schwarzer but just wide
Sunderland's winless run reached 14 games after an uninspiring goalless draw that leaves them only three points clear of the relegation zone.
Darren Bent's tame first-half free-kick and a second-half run and shot by full-back Alan Hutton were the biggest tests for Mark Schwarzer in a poor game.
Fulham also struggled to create but will be pleased to have stretched their their unbeaten run to eight matches.
Fraizer Campbell had the best chance to snatch victory but blazed over late on.
Fulham went into the game looking to complete an unbeaten February, but their eighth game in 26 days threatened to prove one too many against a Sunderland side desperate to end a three-month winless run that has seen them dragged towards a relegation scrap.
Black Cats boss Steve Bruce described this encounter, the first of four successive home matches, as a must-win game and, with Lee Cattermole back from a one-match ban to strengthen their midfield, his side started the stronger.
Yet, despite Cattermole pulling the strings in midfield, Sunderland struggled to threaten Mark Schwarzer's goal and it was Fulham who sparked the game into life with half chances from Zoltan Gera and Bobby Zamora flying wide.
Opposition strikers Zamora and Darren Bent were out to prove a point to England boss Fabio Capello having been widely touted but ultimately overlooked for the squad against Egypt, yet Bent and strike partner Kenwyn Jones looked like strangers early on.
In fact, Sunderland were starting to clutch at straws when Kieran Richardson ran into the back of Nicky Shorey in the area and claimed a penalty. Referee Martin Atkinson was not fooled by a collision that, had it been on the road, would have seen Richardson liable for the insurance.
The incident did at least seem to spark some life into the game and Bent and Jones, a combination that had promised so much at the start of the season, suddenly reintroduced themselves.
Jones lashed a shot over the bar from the edge of the box after Bent had headed the ball into his path, then Bent saw his free-kick parried by Schwarzer - the first shot on target in the opening 45 minutes - after Brede Hangeland had fouled Jones.
Bruce thanks fans after dour draw
The pattern continued in the second half, increasingly so after Bruce replaced Cattermole with the more attack-minded Bolo Zenden and squeezed Richardson further forward.
Bent flashed a shot wide from Campbell's knock-down and Hutton failed to break his scoring duck in English football when his left-foot shot flew straight to Schwarzer after a promising run.
Sunderland and their fans became increasingly frustrated as the stalemate continued with the home side's need far greater than Fulham's, who looked happier with a point that maintains their impressive unbeaten run.
It might even have been three points for the visitors but Damien Duff dragged his shot wide after a long period of passing and possession that saw Fulham move slickly from one end of the pitch to the other.
However, Sunderland finished the stronger and should have secured their first Premier League win since 11 November.
Hodgson buoyed by Fulham's fabulous February
Zenden provided the spark that had been so painfully missing and the veteran midfielder was unfortunate to see his sidefoot effort spin into the side-netting with Schwarzer beaten.
The Dutchman then turned provider with an outstanding low cross that dissected the Fulham six-yard box but saw Hutton slide a shot the wrong side of the post.
And the home side's fans knew it was not going to be their day - again - when Campbell neatly controlled Hutton's cross but lashed a shot on the turn high over the crossbar.
Sunderland boss Steve Bruce: "We huffed and puffed and I couldn't fault the players' effort, but some are trying too hard to make it happen. At the death Fraizer Campbell looked like he was sliding in a goal to win a horrible game 1-0, but it didn't happen and the longer it goes the harder it becomes.
"Our supporters have been terrific and it couldn't have been easy to watch that. We didn't give them much to get excited about but 40,000 people on a horrible Sunday afternoon is a magnificent turnout and anything we did give them they got right behind us.
"It has been a difficult three months but we have to keep working at it and look for a break that could turn our season around."
Fulham manager Roy Hodgson: "It has been a month to remember for the club but this was our eighth game in a short month and so I had my fears. But I was proud of my players for limiting them to long range shots.
"I am sure Alex Ferguson, Arsene Wenger and Rafa Benitez would laugh at me, because they have been doing it year after year, but coping with that amount of games is a difficult situation for Fulham.
"Our European campaign started early and we have a limited squad, but while January was a bad month February has been fantastic. We are back on track and this an important point."
90:00+3:03 The referee brings the game to a close.
90:00+1:54 Benjani Mwaruwari is penalised for a handball. Mark Schwarzer takes the direct free kick.
90:00+1:28 Foul by David Elm on Alan Hutton, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Craig Gordon.
90:00+0:20 A cross is delivered by George McCartney, clearance by Simon Davies.
89:54 The ball is crossed by George McCartney, Brede Hangeland makes a clearance.
89:13 Dickson Etuhu gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Benjani Mwaruwari. Craig Gordon takes the direct free kick.
88:05 Effort from outside the penalty area by Benjani Mwaruwari goes wide left of the goal.
86:13 The ball is swung over by Alan Hutton, Effort on goal by Fraizer Campbell from inside the penalty area goes harmlessly over
85:25 Free kick awarded for a foul by David Elm on Alan Hutton. Free kick taken by Alan Hutton.
84:32 Centre by Damien Duff, Lorik Cana makes a clearance.
82:58 Substitution David Elm is brought on as a substitute for Bobby Zamora.
82:58 Substitution George McCartney joins the action as a substitute, replacing John Mensah.
81:27 Craig Gordon restarts play with the free kick.
81:27 Booking Bobby Zamora is shown a yellow card.
81:18 Bobby Zamora gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on John Mensah.
80:05 Boudewijn Zenden crosses the ball, Alan Hutton produces a right-footed shot from close range which goes wide of the right-hand
79:21 Substitution Kenwyne Jones leaves the field to be replaced by Benjani Mwaruwari.
76:41 Unfair challenge on Darren Bent by Brede Hangeland results in a free kick. Free kick crossed left-footed by Boudewijn Zenden
from left channel, Mark Schwarzer fouled by Fraizer Campbell, the ref awards a free kick. Mark Schwarzer takes the direct
74:36 Kieran Richardson concedes a free kick for a foul on Zoltan Gera. Damien Duff crosses the ball from the free kick left-footed
from right wing, Anton Ferdinand makes a clearance.
73:48 Shot by Boudewijn Zenden from deep inside the penalty area misses to the left of the target.
73:19 Bobby Zamora challenges Lorik Cana unfairly and gives away a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Craig Gordon.
72:55 Foul by Kenwyne Jones on Dickson Etuhu, free kick awarded. Direct free kick taken by Mark Schwarzer.
71:54 Lorik Cana gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Damien Duff. Free kick taken by Aaron Hughes.
69:42 Lorik Cana restarts play with the free kick.
69:42 Booking Jonathan Greening booked.
69:40 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Kieran Richardson by Jonathan Greening.
69:25 The ball is crossed by Simon Davies, clearance by Michael Turner.
68:45 Damien Duff takes a shot. Brede Hangeland gets a block in. Corner from the right by-line taken by Simon Davies, Michael Turner
manages to make a clearance.
67:12 The ball is sent over by Boudewijn Zenden, clearance made by Brede Hangeland.
64:02 Foul by John Mensah on Bobby Zamora, free kick awarded. Damien Duff crosses the ball in from the free kick, clearance made
by Michael Turner.
62:57 Boudewijn Zenden takes a shot. Chris Baird gets a block in.
62:30 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Kenwyne Jones by Jonathan Greening. Direct free kick taken by Boudewijn Zenden.
61:02 Brede Hangeland takes the direct free kick.
61:02 Booking The referee shows Michael Turner a yellow card.
60:58 Michael Turner is penalised for a handball.
60:08 The ball is crossed by Kieran Richardson, clearance made by Nicky Shorey.
57:57 Shot from just outside the box by Darren Bent misses to the right of the target.
56:59 Substitution Jonathan Greening replaces Danny Murphy.
56:59 A cross is delivered by Simon Davies.
55:45 Alan Hutton has an effort at goal. Save made by Mark Schwarzer.
53:52 Substitution Boudewijn Zenden on for Lee Cattermole.
52:39 Darren Bent is ruled offside. Chris Baird takes the indirect free kick.
50:54 Unfair challenge on John Mensah by Bobby Zamora results in a free kick. Free kick taken by Craig Gordon.
48:17 Outswinging corner taken by Simon Davies, Foul by Brede Hangeland on Michael Turner, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by
47:24 Bobby Zamora challenges John Mensah unfairly and gives away a free kick. Craig Gordon takes the free kick.
46:05 John Mensah gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Bobby Zamora. Aaron Hughes restarts play with the free kick.
45:01 The second half kicks off.
45:00+2:28 The referee calls an end to the first half.
45:00+2:13 Shot from outside the box by Darren Bent misses to the left of the goal.
45:00+2:03 Centre by Fraizer Campbell, Aaron Hughes manages to make a clearance.
45:00+0:34 The assistant referee flags for offside against Bobby Zamora. Craig Gordon takes the indirect free kick.
44:24 Dickson Etuhu fouled by Kieran Richardson, the ref awards a free kick. Aaron Hughes takes the free kick.
43:54 Damien Duff sends in a cross.
42:58 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Zoltan Gera by Michael Turner. Nicky Shorey delivers the ball from the free kick
left-footed from left wing, Anton Ferdinand makes a clearance.
42:11 Bobby Zamora is penalised for handball and concedes a free kick. Free kick taken by Craig Gordon.
41:41 Kenwyne Jones takes a shot. Save by Mark Schwarzer.
38:08 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Kenwyne Jones by Brede Hangeland. Darren Bent produces a strike on goal direct
from the free kick, save by Mark Schwarzer.
37:22 Shot by Kenwyne Jones from just outside the area goes over the net.
36:32 Foul by Bobby Zamora on John Mensah, free kick awarded. Anton Ferdinand takes the direct free kick.
34:09 John Mensah concedes a free kick for a foul on Zoltan Gera. Aaron Hughes takes the direct free kick.
32:05 The referee blows for offside. John Mensah takes the free kick.
30:56 John Mensah gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Bobby Zamora. Danny Murphy delivers the ball from the free kick
right-footed from right wing.
26:23 The ball is crossed by Alan Hutton, Chris Baird makes a clearance.
25:42 A cross is delivered by Kieran Richardson.
24:50 The ball is swung over by Simon Davies, Header from deep inside the area by Bobby Zamora goes over the bar.
23:12 The ball is delivered by Alan Hutton, Aaron Hughes makes a clearance.
21:53 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Kieran Richardson by Zoltan Gera. Craig Gordon takes the direct free kick.
21:12 Aaron Hughes takes the free kick.
21:12 Booking Kieran Richardson goes into the book.
21:06 Kieran Richardson gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Zoltan Gera.
20:20 Foul by John Mensah on Zoltan Gera, free kick awarded. Aaron Hughes takes the direct free kick.
19:40 Handball decision goes against Lorik Cana. Direct free kick taken by Danny Murphy.
18:23 The ball is delivered by Fraizer Campbell, clearance made by Nicky Shorey.
17:47 Free kick crossed left-footed by Kieran Richardson from left wing, clearance by Nicky Shorey.
17:47 Booking Chris Baird receives a caution.
17:36 Chris Baird concedes a free kick for a foul on Kieran Richardson.
17:04 Free kick taken by Nicky Shorey.
17:04 Booking Alan Hutton receives a caution.
16:59 Free kick awarded for a foul by Alan Hutton on Brede Hangeland.
13:04 Corner taken left-footed by Kieran Richardson, Kenwyne Jones takes a shot. Mark Schwarzer makes a save.
10:41 Danny Murphy challenges Kieran Richardson unfairly and gives away a free kick. Kieran Richardson takes the free kick.
7:35 Nicky Shorey fouled by Fraizer Campbell, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick taken by Nicky Shorey.
6:30 Zoltan Gera has shot on goal from just outside the box which goes wide of the right-hand upright.
5:12 Alan Hutton produces a cross, clearance made by Dickson Etuhu.
3:28 The ball is delivered by Lorik Cana, Danny Murphy manages to make a clearance.
2:28 The ball is sent over by Anton Ferdinand, clearance made by Aaron Hughes. Corner from the left by-line taken by Kieran Richardson,
Chris Baird makes a clearance.
1:36 Lee Cattermole challenges Zoltan Gera unfairly and gives away a free kick. Brede Hangeland restarts play with the free kick.
0:00 The ref blows the whistle to start the match.
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