Fulham beat a disappointing Derby 3-0 at Craven Cottage to move into third place in the Sky Bet Championship table.
Goals by Bobby Decordova-Reid and Aleksandar Mitrovic in the first half and a late third by captain Tom Cairney gave Scott Parker’s side a third successive victory and suggested that they are beginning to find the consistency that eluded them earlier in the season.
Derby’s away woes continued. Although they have won their past five home games, they are without a league victory on the road since the opening match of the season.
Their impressive victory over third-placed Preston at the weekend was a distant memory here as they failed to make an impression after missing an excellent early chance.
They have now lost four consecutive away league matches for the first since March 2017 when Steve McClaren was in his unhappy second spell as manager.
They should have been ahead after five minutes but the unmarked Tom Lawrence miscued wide of goal from Max Lowe’s cross from the left.
Instead it was Fulham who took the lead two minutes later when Derby only half-cleared a corner kick.
Aboubakar Kamara returned the ball to the near post where Decordova-Reid got his toe to the ball before Derby goalkeeper Kelle Roos to score his first goal since joining the London club on loan from Cardiff in August.
Fulham played some clever football but also showed that they could keep things simple when required. After 28 minutes, Ivan Cavaleiro forced a fine diving save from Roos with a swerving first-time shot from Kamara’s low pass.
And it was the most basic of corner-kick routines that brought Fulham their second five minutes before half-time.
Mitrovic outmuscled his marker to get underneath Cavaleiro’s kick from the left and head past a motionless Roos from six yards, the top scorer’s 13th of the season.
A third would not have flattered Fulham and they almost got it in first-half added time when Cairney curled a shot inches over the crossbar.
And Roos came to the rescue after 47 minutes with a diving save to keep out a snap shot from Mitrovic.
After that Fulham were content to sit back and hit on the break, and almost scored again when Mitrovic saw a shot blocked after good work by substitute Anthony Knockaert and Cavaleiro.
But even then very little was seen of Derby as an attacking force until Martyn Waghorn shot wide from a cross by Max Lowe after 70 minutes.
Cairney completed the scoring in the 89th minute, striking the ball through Roos’ legs from a pass by Mitrovic.
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