Impressive Fulham finally secured their first Premier League victory of the season – and it was well deserved.
Goals from Bobby Decordova-Reid and Ola Aina just before the half-hour mark were sufficient to see off West Brom in a contest where the Whites exuded the sort of self-belief and defensive determination that has been often lacking so far in this campaign.
Fulham head coach Scott Parker will be especially pleased with these three points against a tame Albion side, who lacked innovation and never looked like recovering at any stage of the game.
It was vital for the Whites – seeking that elusive win – that they got off to at least a solid start.
But fellow strugglers Albion, also winless, nearly carved out an early goal when Conor Townsend’s looping cross came off the bar.
Eventually, Fulham began to enjoy possession with Ademola Lookman lively on the left-hand side.
And it was the winger who created the opening goal in 25 minutes.
From his left-wing cross, Aleksandar Mitrovic was unmarked and able to direct a headed assist for Decordova-Reid to easily nod home from three yards.
The Whites’ confidence and aggression was now obvious – and just four minutes later they doubled their lead with a superb effort.
Following some great work by both Decordova-Reid and Mitrovic in the final third, the ball was perfectly placed for Aina to take aim and fire past Albion keeper Sam Johnstone from 20 yards.
Both goals undoubtedly signalled major relief for Parker, witnessing Fulham’s best opening half of football since promotion.
Searching for a third, Andre Anguissa tried his luck from distance, bringing out a smart save from Johnstone as the Whites ended the first period full of vigour.
Unlike their previous Premier League outings where defensive frailties were ruthlessly exposed by Arsenal, Aston Villa and Crystal Palace, Fulham were organised and restricted Albion’s attempts to claw their way back into proceedings as the second half wore on.
Debutant Joachim Andersen was particularly impressive in this respect, while captain Tom Cairney became more influential going forward.
Perhaps satisfied with their two-goal lead, dominant Fulham didn’t create many clear cut chances, although Decordova-Reid saw an effort cannon off Semi Ajayi on the goal line with 19 minutes left, amid home claims for handball, which were dismissed.
It was to prove the last significant act of the evening. Fulham now travel across London to face West Ham on Saturday, in what will surely be a more optimistic mood throughout Parker’s reshaped squad.
Fulham: Areola, Robinson, Andersen, Adarabioyo, Aina, Cairney, Lemina (Reed 46), Anguissa, Lookman (Bryan 90), Mitrovic, Reid (Cavaleiro 84)