Fulham 2 – 0 West Brom. Fulham register their first Premier League win at the expense of West Brom. Bobby Decordova-Reid headed Scott Parker’s side ahead from close range after Aleksandar Mitrovic’s cushioned header had set him up. Fulham secured their first Premier League win of the season as they beat West Brom to move out of the bottom three.
The hosts doubled their lead four minutes later and Mitrovic was again involved as he laid the ball off for Ola Aina, who struck spectacularly from 20 yards out. The Cottagers came close to scoring a third but both Tom Cairney and Decordova-Reid had efforts cleared off the goalline within seconds of each other.
West Brom hit the crossbar through Conor Townsend’s misjudged cross when it was goalless, but Slaven Bilic’s side remain without a league win in 2020-21 and replace Fulham in the relegation zone. No Fulham apology needed this time
This match was between two of the sides who had earned promotion from the Championship in 2019-20, West Brom coming second behind champions Leeds, before Fulham beat west London rivals Brentford in the Wembley play-off final.
But both have found life at the top level much tougher, with Fulham only picking up one point from their opening six games, while West Brom had drawn three and lost three.
The visitors almost took a fortunate third-minute lead when Townsend’s cross nearly caught out home goalkeeper Alphonse Areola but bounced off the woodwork. However, the hosts then became the better side with the lively Ademola Lookman shooting wide from 20 yards out.
Fulham’s opening goal came in the 26th minute as Antonee Robinson’s left-wing cross was headed back into the danger zone by the impressive Mitrovic and Decordova-Reid converted for his third goal of the season in all competitions.
It only took the home side four minutes to move 2-0 in front. Aina started the move on the right flank, he linked up with Cordova-Reid and played the ball into the feet of Mitrovic, who, with his back to goal, laid the ball back into Aina’s path and he struck a beautiful effort into the top corner for a spectacular first Premier League goal.
Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa could have even made it 3-0 before the break as he collected the ball following a fine run from captain Cairney but could only shoot at West Brom goalkeeper Sam Johnstone.
Fulham had been on a run of four away matches since losing 3-0 at home to Aston Villa, after which co-owner Tony Khan apologised to the club’s fans, but their supporters would have been much happier after this showing.
West Brom need to quickly improve
West Brom boss Bilic would have targeted this match as one where three points were possible, but, despite having more possession, will be frustrated with the performance of his players.
The Baggies have now conceded a league-high 16 goals and it was poor marking for Fulham’s first as Mitrovic then Decordova-Reid were able to head the ball unchallenged, although West Brom could have done little about Aina’s strike for 2-0.
Karlan Grant should have pulled a goal back at the end of the first half, shooting wide from the edge of the penalty area, as the Baggies went the opening 45 minutes without a shot on target.
Bilic brought on Romaine Sawyers, Callum Robinson and Matt Phillips, with captain Jake Livermore one of those replaced, in an attempt to change the game in the second half, but they were unable to make a difference and it was a comfortable night for Areola in the home goal.
This is West Brom’s first season in the top flight since 2017-18, but Bilic will be looking for an instant improvement all over the field if they are to avoid being in a relegation battle for the rest of this campaign.
Man of the match – Aleksandar Mitrovic (Fulham)
West Brom’s worst start in 35 years – the stats
- Fulham are unbeaten in their last 10 league meetings with West Brom (won four, drew six) since a 2-1 loss in the Premier League in October 2010.
- West Brom have not won away at Fulham in the league since October 1967 (2-1), drawing seven and losing 10 of their 17 visits since then.
- Fulham have picked up their first victory and clean sheet in the Premier League since April 2019 against Cardiff (1-0), ending their eight-game winless run in the top flight.
- With just three points from their opening seven Premier League games this season (drew three, lost four), West Brom have made their worst start to a league campaign since 1985-86 (one point), failing to win any of their opening seven games for the first time since 2004-05.
- On his 50th league appearance for Fulham (including play-offs), Bobby Decordova-Reid netted Fulham’s opener – he has scored two goals in his last five league games for the Cottagers, as many as in his previous 25.
- Fulham’s Ola Aina netted his first ever goal in English League football in what was his 51st appearance across spells with Chelsea, Hull and Fulham.
- Aleksandar Mitrovic has been directly involved in 57% of Fulham’s Premier League goals this season (four of seven – two goals, two assists).
Source – BBC News