Dutch international Ryan Babel scored the only goal of the game at Craven Cottage on Saturday, April 27th.
Neil Warnock made one change to the side that faced Liverpool at Cardiff City Stadium last time out as Leandro Bacuna replaced the injured Joe Ralls.
It was a tentative start as both teams sounded the match out. Top goalscorer Aleksandar Mitrović unsurprisingly proved a goal threat at every opportunity for Fulham, and it was the Serbian international who had the first real chance of the match after 12 minutes. City goalkeeper Neil Etheridge made a fine diving save to his left to tip Mitrović’s curling effort wide.
A nine minute delay occurred in the first half after Denis Odoi was kicked in the head accidentally by his own teammate, Maxime Le Marchand. After receiving treatment, Odoi was stretched from the field of play, and replaced by full-back Cyrus Christie.
The hosts had the better of the match late in the half, including the extended spell of injury time. It took a late block from Cardiff City captain Sean Morrison to stop Ryan Babel’s effort on 40 minutes. Ryan Sessegnon, regularly a thorn in the side of the Bluebirds when on the opposing team, should’ve done better seven minutes into the nine of added on time in the first period, but he diverted a volley wide of goal at close range.
Mitrović uncharacteristically spurned a good chance off target three minutes into the second half. Just 15-yards out and with a clear site of goal - the striker curled high and wide under pressure, letting off the Bluebirds.
The pace picked up as the game progressed. Leandro Bacuna was inches away from reaching a dangerous cross near the hour mark, only for a last gasp Fulham foot to poke the ball clear. After recycling the ball to Víctor Camarasa, the Spaniard took aim, but fired off target.
It was a tight game with few clear cut chances - and a real moment of quality was required to open the deadlock. Substitute Christie broke down the right side before passing in-field to former Liverpool winger Babel, who curled a powerful out-curling effort into the top left corner, beyond Etheridge, to give Scott Parker’s men an advantage after 79 minutes.
The Bluebirds fought hard to find a goal, and potentially a crucial point in the fight to remain in the Premier League, but Fulham’s Sergio Rico was in inspired form, much to the frustration of the away fans. The Spanish goalkeeper made stops to deny Danny Ward on three occasions, while also saving efforts from Joe Bennett, Bobby Decordova-Reid and Sean Morrison.
City’s best chance came two minutes before the end as Junior Hoilett met the ball, sweeping it towards goal after Decordova-Reid’s initial effort was stopped. However, the ball cannoned out off the underside of the crossbar, and agonisingly away from goal.
FINAL SCORE: FULHAM 1-0 CARDIFF CITY
Fulham: Rico, Sessegnon (Mawson 84’), Odoi (Christie 28’), Chambers, Mitrović, Cairney, Babel (Ayite 88’), Ream, Le Marchand, Bryan, Zambo Anguissa. Subs Not Used: Fabri, Kebano, Seri, Elliot.
Cardiff City: Etheridge, Peltier, Bennett, Manga, Morrison, Bacuna, Gunnarsson (Decordova-Reid 87’), Camarasa (Healey 71’), Hoilett, Mendez-Laing, Niasse (Ward 61’). Subs Not Used: B. Murphy, Cunningham, Richards, Harris.