Fulham remain deep in trouble after succumbing to the extra zest and ambition of Leeds
Fulham (1) 1 Andersen 38
Leeds United (1) 2 Bamford 29, Raphinha 58
Joachim Andersen bagged his first goal in Fulham colours, but the Whites slipped to another home defeat to stay in the bottom three.
It was a real body blow for Scott Parker’s men. After their run of matches against three of the Premier League’s big-hitters, the hope was that Leeds, often vulnerable in defence, were eminently beatable.
But the Yorkshire outfit play with the sort of insouciant abandon which makes them unpredictable and hard to contain.
Their zest and speed of the break made them dangerous throughout and there can be no real complaints about the outcome.
Fulham remain two points behind Newcastle and three behind Brighton who both have two games in hand and meet tomorrow. Only eight games remain for the Whites to save themselves.
Fulham might have believed the footballing gods were on their side for once when they were given a massive reprieve in the eighth minute after Leeds had a ‘goal’ ruled out by VAR.
Defender Luke Ayling placed a perfect far-post header beyond Alphonse Areola, only for the replays to rule that the crosser, Tyler Roberts, had been offside in the build-up.
It ruined the happy celebrations near the corner flag of United’s ‘scorer’ who thought he had had bagged his first ever Premier League goal. Ayling was so happy, he removed a hair band to let us all see his luxuriant flowing locks. But another heartless bod in Stockley Park – Darren England, on this occasion - denied him his moment, much to Fulham’s relief.
For a moment it looked like the narrative was favouring Fulham as only a fine one-handed stop from Illan Meslier in the Leeds goal denied Josh Maja the opener on 28 minutes – the striker turning to get in a shot after a game of pinball in the visitors’ box.
But a minute later, Patrick Bamford lashed home a low left-foot shot after Jack Harrison had played an inviting ball in from the left.
Within eight minutes, we were all-square when Andersen volleyed home an Ademola Lookman corner from six yards, to become the third Dane to find the net for the Whites in the Premier League after Bjarne Goldbaek and Claus Jensen. Another small slice of history-making by Vikings on the Thames.
Andre-Frank Zamba Anguissa even came close to putting Fulham ahead soon after, firing a low shot from the edge of the area that Meslier kept out and the Leeds stopper was called into action again before the half was out to block an Ivan Cavaleiro effort.
But the second half belonged mostly to Leeds, who deservedly cashed in on their fluidity on the break and superiority of ambition.
The breathless and almost chaotic nature of the contest did not let up, but it was always the visitors who carried the greater threat, even if Parker anticipated success from set pieces by introducing Aleksandar Mitrovic for Maja at the interval.
Areola needed to be alert to stop Harrison from completing a dribble in from the right by rifling in at the near post and it was a warning of what they could do.
Moments after Fulham had created a half chance of their own through Mario Lemina, the dangerous Raphinha sprinted onto a fine pass from Bamford before slipping the ball past Areola and it turned out there would be no way back for Fulham.
Ex-Brentford man Stuart Dallas came close to adding a third goal for Leeds after the Whites surrendered possession trying to play out of defence and a breakneck-speed transfer of the ball to the right ended with a low shot which flew just wide.
Areola kept his side in it to the end though, thanks to another fine low dive to his left to stop Ezgjan Alioski’s raking low shot from finding the far corner. But Fulham could not profit from the let-off.
Whites: Areola – Aina (Tete 72), Andersen, Tosin, Robinson – Anguissa, Reed (Loftus-Cheek 63), Lemina – Cavaleiro, Maja (Mitrovic h/t), Lookman. Subs not used: Fabri, Hector, Odoi, Ream, Bryan, Kongolo
Leeds: Meslier – Ayling, Llorente, Struijk, Alioski – Phillips – Raphinha, Dallas, Roberts (Koch 90), Harrison – Bamford (Klich 77). Subs not used: Poveda, Casilla, Helder Costa, Berardi, Gerhardt, Shackleton, Jenkins