- Mitrovic and Onomah strike to give Fulham 2-0 win
- Luton boost survival hopes with win at Huddersfield
Aleksandar Mitrovic’s penalty cemented Fulham’s Championship play-off place in a 2-0 win over promotion rivals Cardiff. The Serbia striker marked his return from a three-match ban with a spot-kick at Craven Cottage as Fulham recorded a fourth straight league win.
Josh Onomah later fired his third goal of the season to rubber-stamp a crucial victory for Scott Parker’s side who leapfrogged Brentford into third place, temporarily at least, with the Bees travelling to Derby on Saturday.
Fulham kept up the pressure on the top two, Leeds and West Brom, but Parker will be delighted to have secured a play-off place.
Mitrovic went back to the top of the Championship scoring chart with his 24th goal, inching ahead of Brentford’s Ollie Watkins again. The 25-year-old had played the villain with his retrospective ban for an ugly elbow on Ben White in Fulham’s 3-0 defeat at Leeds on 27 June.
Fulham pulled off wins over QPR, Birmingham and Nottingham Forest in his absence – all without a recognised striker. And while they still struggled for fluency, both the result and Mitrovic’s goal will have Fulham buoyed up for a strong finish to the season.
Cardiff missed the chance to open up a four-point gap on seventh-placed Swansea, with their bitter rivals taking on Leeds on Sunday. The visitors were left to rue Joe Ralls failing with two first-half chances.
Fulham’s first chance proved to be Mitrovic’s penalty. Dion Sanderson tangled with Mitrovic in the area and the spot-kick changed the game. Mitrovic approached the ball casually before firing home with ferocity.
The lead flattered Fulham, who had rode their luck on several occasions before the penalty.
And their goal galvanised Cardiff again and Anthony Knockaert received a deserved yellow card for taking out the breaking Nathaniel Mendez-Laing.
Ralls then hit the bar with an angled half-volley, hooking high over the ball with fine technique. The Cardiff midfielder immediately traded misfortune for a miscue however in heading over the bar under zero pressure.
Fulham dominated the second-half as Cardiff faded. The hosts were left furious not to earn a second penalty when a Joe Bryan cross appeared to strike Curtis Nelson’s arm – with Mitrovic then claiming he was fouled by Will Vaulks in the ensuing melee. They quickly doubled their lead when Onomah traded passes with Stefan Johansen before drilling into the bottom corner.
Nathan Jones revelled in a “massive, massive result” after a 2-0 win at relegation rivals Huddersfield lifted Luton off the bottom. Second-half goals from Sonny Bradley and Elliot Lee moved Luton above Barnsley before they play Wigan on Saturday.
“It was a wonderful result for us,” Jones said. “The performance was outstanding.”