Fulham eke out rare and precious win as Lookman's strike buries the Blades
Fulham (0) 1 Lookman 61
Sheffield United (0) 0
A win-or-bust night for Fulham went their way, thanks to a goal just past the hour by Ademola Lookman - the one player who always seems capable of doing something special.
The winger drilled home through the legs of keeper Aaron Ramsdale after taking delivery of a searching ball from Joachim Andersen and riding Ethan Ampadu’s weak challenge.
It was his fourth league goal for the Whites and could prove to be so crucial in the Whites’ bid to beat the drop.
The sense of relief at the end was palpable. This was a game the Whites simply had to win. It was only their second at the Cottage this season and only the fourth Scott Parker has overseen in 19 home Premier League games in charge.
They now sit only three points behind Newcastle and have reason to believe again. They are not tearing up trees but they are keeping their shape, look together, and are grinding out results.
Fulham made heavy weather of it though, against the doomed bottom-of-the-table Blades, who decided their best bet was to sit back and wait.
And for all their dominance of the ball, there was little end product from the Whites – a familiar tale.
In the first half, Lookman sent a powder-puff shot straight at Ramsdale and Ruben Loftus-Cheek blazed over.
Lookman’s break out of defence gave Ivan Cavaleiro an opportunity to cut inside and unleash a furious drive. That too went over the bar. Harrison Reed had another pop from distance.
It was often a case of carrying the ball at speed into enemy territory before the inevitable breakdown.
They struggled to get in behind a well-organised rearguard marshalled by Phil Jagielka and the Blades were uncompromising in their approach. This felt like last-chance saloon territory for them.
Loftus-Cheek came very close to breaking the deadlock when he wriggled past a despairing Jagielka and prodded goalwards, only for George Baldock to clear off the line but a goal would finally come.
After the Lookman breakthrough, Enda Stevens ought to have drawn the Blades level when set free by Billy Sharp, with only Alphonse Areola to beat, but the Fulham stopper saved well with his legs.
And there was one more late scare when Areola had to use his legs again to block-tackle as Jayden Bogle pounced on a bouncing ball in the area – a challenge that for one heart-stopping moment looked like being grounds for a penalty shout.
It was a close as the sorry Blades came to breaking the narrative of a vital, gritty home win.
Whites: Areola – Aina, Andersen, Tosin, Robinson – Loftus-Cheek, Reed, Anguissa, Lookman (Decordova-Reid 90) – Cavaleiro (Tete 78), Maja (Lemina 86). Subs not used: Rodak, Hector, Odoi, Ream, Bryan, Onomah
Blades: Ramsdale – Basham (Norwood 51), Jagielka (Bogle 80), Bryan – Ampadu – Baldock, Stevens, Lundstram (McGoldrick 74), Fleck –McBurnie, Sharp. Subs not used: Lowe, Burke, Foderingham, Osborn, Brewster, Brunt