Two goals in four second-half minutes swung a pulsating west London derby in Fulham’s favour as they overcame QPR 4-1 at Craven Cottage.
Aleksandar Mitrovic headed his second goal of the game in the 66th minute before substitute Bobby Decordova-Reid slid home to re-affirm Fulham’s status as promotion challengers. Another replacement, Antonee Robinson, sealed an impressive win in injury-time with a deflected shot.
As has become their wont this season, Marco Silva’s side started brightly and took the lead after 10 minutes. A searching crossfield ball from Jean Michaël Seri set up an attack down the right wing. It ended with Denis Odoi swinging over a cross which Mitrovic chested down before holding off Rob Dickie and swivelling to send the ball scuttling into the Rangers net.
The Serbian almost made it 2-0 twice in a minute. First, he was allowed to collect the ball in space on the left and cut inside and his shot would have nestled in the top corner but for the despairing lunge of Dickie, who deflected the ball over the bar. From the resulting corner, Mitrovic’s flicked header from point-blank range was stopped on the line by the head of the Rangers goalkeeper Seny Dieng, who had no time to react.
Gradually the visitors forced their way into the match. Patient Rangers buildup six minutes before the interval ended with Moses Odubajo slicing a left-foot shot straight to Chris Willock. The striker‘s shot thudded against the Fulham post and away to safety.
Within seconds, play had switched to the other end, where Harry Wilson drove to the by-line and his pull-back into Mitrovic’s path looked certain to end in a second goal for the home side only for Dickie to once again throw his body in the way.
QPR were level 10 minutes into the second half. The Rangers manager Mark Warburton, on his first day back following a positive Covid diagnosis, brought on Scotland’s World Cup qualifying hero Lyndon Dykes at half-time and saw the striker finish off a fine move for the equaliser. Charlie Austin slipped a cute ball into the path of Willock who galloped forward before finding Dykes, who rounded Fulham keeper Marek Rodek and found the empty net.
Fulham lost defender Joe Bryan as he collided with the post in that incident. His replacement, Robinson, was involved in the move which saw them restore their lead. Neeskens Kebano swung over a cross which Mitrovic cleverly headed into the far corner for his 12th goal of the season.
Seri then fed Decordova-Reid with another astute pass and watched the substitute slide his shot past Dieng. The final ignominy for Rangers, who have not beaten Fulham in their past seven derbies, came in injury time when Robinson’s hopeful shot as he skipped forward took a decisive touch off Jordy De Wijs to wrong-foot Dieng.