Fulham 2-0 Cardiff City : Championship

    Aleksandar Mitrovic scored on his return for Fulham as they climbed up to third in the Championship with a 2-0 win over Cardiff.

    Fulham kept their slim hopes of automatic promotion alive as Mitrovic’s penalty and Josh Onomah’s effort in each half secured their victory at Craven Cottage on Friday night, moving them to within four points of West Brom in second, and five behind Leeds, with those two sides playing later over the weekend.

    For Cardiff, though, it was a huge blow to their play-off hopes. They remain sixth, but just a point clear of Swansea and three ahead of Preston and Derby. All three could overtake yet overtake them this weekend.

    Mitrovic returns to steer Fulham to victory

    Fulham had won all three games in which Mitrovic had been suspended for his elbow on Ben White during their defeat at Leeds, but there was no doubt whatsoever that Scott Parker would throw him straight back in – even handing him the armband.

    And on 35 minutes he repaid that faith, winning a penalty off Dion Sanderson as he was pulled down in the box, before sending the ball into the top corner from 12 yards – his 24th of the season to send him one ahead of Ollie Watkins in the race for the Golden Boot.

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    While Alex Smithies had no chance with the penalty, he did make a brilliant save on 42 minutes to deny Fulham a second. Bobby Decordova-Reid picked up the ball 25 yards out and sent in a peach of a strike that appeared destined for the top corner, only for Smithies to fling himself to his left to tip it onto the bar.

    On the stroke of half-time Decordova-Reid should have put Fulham two ahead, though, but sent a header wide from point-blank range after a brilliant cross from Anthony Knockaert right into the heart of the six-yard box.

    Cardiff, who themselves had hit the bar shortly after falling behind from a Joe Ralls effort, pushed again for an equaliser after the break, but it was Fulham who struck next to double their lead on 66 minutes.

    It was smart work from Onomah as he played a one-two with substitute Stefan Johansen, receiving the ball from a smart pass in the box, before taking a touch and driving one low into the bottom corner. After that, there was no way back for Cardiff.

    Man of the Match – Harrison Reed

    For the first half an hour when Fulham weren’t at the races, Reed kept his side in some kind of control of Cardiff as the away side dominated. Without him they may well have fallen behind when they were under pressure. It was a crucial, if understated performance from the midfielder.

    What’s next?

    Both sides are back in action on Tuesday. Fulham head to West Brom for a 5pm kick-off that’s live on Sky Sports Football, while Cardiff host Derby for a 7.45pm kick-off.

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