Fulham have one foot down Wembley Way after classy second half display at Cardiff
Cardiff City 0 Fulham 2
Play-off semi-final first leg
A moment of sheer class from Josh Onomah and a perfect injury-time free-kick from Neeskens Kebano has given Fulham a massive edge going into Thursday night’s play-off second leg.
And they did it without their talisman, Aleksandar Mitrovic – the Championship’s top scorer – who was left out as a precaution because of a slight injury.
He is expected to return for the second leg as the Whites aim to finish the job against a Cardiff side they beat 2-0 on home soil just a few weeks ago.
The Whites had to survive a few dodgy moments on the first half and only a couple of solid saves from Marek Rodak and a superb piece of defending from Michael Hector denied the Bluebirds a lead.
Yet, slowly, but surely, they warmed to the task, with Tom Cairney brushing the outside of a post before the break with a shot from outside the box.
The real game changer, however, was Onomah’s fourth goal of the season four minutes into the second half, which gave Fulham the confidence to up the tempo and press on in search of a second.
The Fulham midfielder took delivery of the ball just outside the area after Kebano’s cross had been half cleared.
Harrison Reed, as industrious as ever, tapped him a short pass and after rolling around Marlon Pack, Onomah side-stepped two defenders before clipping the ball smartly home.
And with their tails up, Bobby Reid almost blasted home a second against his former club.
The Whites always looked in charge and put themselves even more firmly in the driving seat at the death, with Kebano’s sweetly-struck kick coming after Cairney had been chopped down on the edge of the area.
Victory made it eight undefeated games since those two defeats just after the restart and this polished display has left them a short step from Wembley.
Line-up: Rodak – Christie, Hector, Ream, Bryan – Reed, Onomah – Knockaert (Kamara 81), Cairney, Kebano (Odoi 90) – Reid. Subs not used: Bettinelli, Mawson, McDonald, Johansen, LeMarchand, Sessegnon, Jasper