Fulham – West Brom was the performance and result — a 2-0 victory, no. 1 on the season — that the Cottagers so desperately needed to kickstart their 2020-21 campaign at Craven Cottage on Monday.
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Fulham did all of their damage midway through the first half, hitting the Baggies for a pair of goals from Bobby Reid and Ola Aina.
2 things we learned: Fulham – West Brom
1. Signs of life from Fulham… question mark: Perhaps it was the opponent, one of only a select few as poorly as them through the first six weeks of the season. Perhaps it’s a sign of things to come from a team still finding its way in the Premier League. Either way, for the first time all season Fulham showcased the style and form which saw them win promotion at the first time of asking.
2. West Brom take a massive step back: Ahead of Monday’s game, Slaven Bilic had complimented his side for making improvements in recent weeks and drawing three of their last four games. But, Monday saw West Brom abandon that progress and look completely lost at sea. Despite protecting a two-goal lead for more than an hour, it was Fulham who continued to attack and threaten to score the next goal, and West Brom had neither an offensive answer of their own nor any way to stem the tide. In short, the Baggies were impossibly poor.
Fulham opened the scoring in the 26th minute with a bit of penalty-area head-tennis, as American left back Antonee Robinson floated a high cross to the back post, where Aleksandar Mitrovic headed it back across the face of goal for Reid, who headed it onward and into the back of the net.
Four minutes later, Aina hit an upper-90 laser past Sam Johnstone with no more than an inch to spare to the left and above — perhaps the most perfect placement possible. It’s a goal you have to see to fully appreciate (above video).
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Fulham very nearly finished the game off amid hectic scenes in the 83rd minute, but Conor Townsend cleared Tom Cairney’s shot off the line initially, only for it to fall to Reid for a follow-up attempt. He hammered it on target, but straight at Semi Ajayi who also cleared the ball off the line. There were suspicions of handball from Ajayi, but video review determined nothing untoward had occurred.