Mitrovic treble guides Fulham to comfortable win over the Baggies
Fulham (2) 3 Mitrovic pen 20, 40, 82
West Brom (0) 0
Aleksandar Mitrovic’s hat-trick made it eight goals in four games for Fulham as they saw off the Baggies to stay on the shoulders of leaders Bournemouth.
It was his second treble of the season for the Whites – repeating his prolific night against Swansea in September.
Albion, who conceded a disputed penalty and gifted a goal, ended the match with 10 men on an afternoon where nothing went right for the visitors.
The only blemish on a perfect day for Marco Silva’s men was an 85th minute red shown to Tosin for a painful high tackle on Albion sub Grady Diangana.
Mitrovic – who soaked up the adulation of home fans while holding up the match-ball at the end - now has 20 goals for club and country this season and is in the sort of form where luck follows him as well as undoubted talent.
First, the Serb profited from a very questionable penalty decision and then took advantage of a defensive lapse to double the lead before the interval.
After nearly 20 minutes of sparring, ref Michael Salisbury ruled that Kyle Bartley had fouled Mitrovic as the pair raced for a ball slipped through by Bobby Reid.
To the naked eye, it looked a perfectly-timed challenge, but without VAR in the Championship to test such marginal decisions, a spot-kick was awarded and the Serb duly dispatched it low to Sam Johnstone’s left.
Fortunate or not, the goal spurred the Whites into a fine spell, with Neeskens Kebano to the fore. His quick feet helped him dance past two defenders on the left edge of the area and his roll-back was clipped just over by Jean Michael Seri.
Albion responded with a Matt Phillips drive just clearing the bar and then a muscular burst from skipper Jake Livermore past Tim Ream was halted by Tosin’s fine block.
Marek Rodak sprang full length to keep out a flying header from Matt Clarke and then stayed watchful to thwart Bartley from another aerial effort.
Those moments of danger seen off, the Whites doubled their lead before the break when Robert Snodgrass’ weak back pass proved inch-perfect for Mitrovic and the striker had the simple task of sliding the ball beyond Johnstone’s right hand.
The Baggies came close to pegging Fulham back at the start of the second half when Conor Townsend slid a low cross-shot towards the far post. It needed the slightest touch from a clutch of onlookers to change the scenario.
But they almost gifted a third goal when a crazy square ball into space from defender Clarke left Kebano with a run on goal. The final shot flew wide.
Albion’s afternoon refused to improve though, and they played the last 20 minutes with 10 men after having Darnell Furlong dismissed with a straight red for a mistimed last-man tackle on Harry Wilson after Reid had angled a ball for his team-mate to run onto.
Now firmly entrenched in the comfort zone, the Whites scented more blood. Tosin’s powerful far-post header was palmed away, but soon after, Mitrovic completed his hat-trick with a close-range blast after good work from Wilson to slip a ball back from the bye line.
Only the late red for Tosin marred a glorious start to the weekend for Fulham fans.
Whites: (4-2-3-1) Rodak – Odoi, Tosin, Ream, Robinson – Reed (Carvalho 84), Seri – Reid, Wilson, Kebano (Cairney 84) – Mitrovic (Muniz 84). Subs not used: Gazzaniga, Tete, Hector, Onomah
Albion: (3-4-2-1) Johnstone – Ajayi, Bartley, Clarke – Furlong, Snodgrass, Livermore, Townsend – Phillips (Diangana 59), Grant (Molumby 73) – Hugill (Robinson 59). Subs not used: Button, Reach, Kipre, Bryan