Fulham 3 Luton 2
Fulham returned to winning ways and a move up the Championship table, with an inspired hat-trick by talisman Aleksandar Mitrovic at Craven Cottage.
Mitrovic took his scoring tally to 16 goals for the season in a game the Whites mainly dominated in what was the first meeting with Luton Town in 20 years.
There were a couple of changes in the Whites line up – Marek Rodak and Denis Odoi coming in for keeper Marcus Bettinelli and injured midfielder Harry Arter respectively – from the 2-0 weekend defeat at Stoke City.
The teams were evenly contested early on, but it was Luton who created a good chance when James Collins clipped an angled shot just wide after a neat through pass by Isaiah Brown.
The scare for Fulham was keenly acknowledged, and in the 16th minute they went ahead. Mitrovic made space inside the penalty area after fastening on to a pass from Ivan Cavaleiro, before a superb right foot drive which flew past Luton keeper James Shea into the top left hand corner.
Fulham, having made a terrific start, almost added a second – and it was Mitrovic again supplying the danger.
The Serbian forward was unlucky to see a low drive from 15 yards parried away by Shea. Luton managed to respond briefly amid Fulham’s territorial advantage, with a Collins’ left foot shot that went wide from an angle.
Fulham, aiming to make matters more comfortable, went close in the 35th minute, when the impressive Cavaleiro combined well with Anthony Knockaert, before the latter fired just inches over the bar.
Scott Parker’s men did add a second in the 52nd minute – and it was such a well-worked goal too. Mitrovic, bustling into the box, drove home from six yards, fastening on to a pin point, low right sided cross by Bobby Decordova-Reid. The boost was no more than the Whites deserved.
Yet there was a surprise in store on the hour mark, when the Hatters managed to pull a goal back. Dan Potts reacted first, a glancing header high into Rodak’s net after a Brown free kick from the right.
Still, as is so often the case for Fulham, it was left to Mitrovic once again to provide the killer blow. In the 66th minute, the striker bravely dived inside the danger zone to steer a header home from a precise set piece by Joe Bryan.
Cavaleiro then rifled a shot which Shea did well to turn away in the closing stages. Luton persevered and despite their scrambled goal by Kazenga LuaLua in stoppage time, there was little doubting the confidence and quality of Fulham’s overall performance. It was a victory sure to please manager Parker.