Fulham keep winning run going against Stoke
Fulham stretched their lead at the top of the Championship to eight points after a 3-2 win over Stoke despite falling behind inside 45 seconds.
The Cottagers suffered an early setback when D’Margio Wright-Phillips – son of Shaun and grandson of Ian Wright – opened the scoring with the game’s first attack.
Rodrigo Munoz immediately equalised and Fabio Carvalho and Bobby Decordova-Reid scored either side of a spectacular Lewis Baker strike to secure a fourth straight league win.
Making only his second league start and his first in front of a home crowd, 20-year-old Wright-Phillips met an enticing Josh Tymon delivery with an accomplished volley – his first senior strike.
However, the Potters’ celebrations were cut short a matter of seconds later when the league’s pace-setters equalised straight from kick-off.
Muniz – the 20-year-old Brazilian tasked with filling the void left by absent top scorer Aleksandar Mitrovic – rifled an accurate effort into the top corner in an eventful opening two minutes.
The fixture, promised goals due to Fulham’s return of 19 in their three prior outings, showed no signs of slowing yet it was Michael O’Neill’s side who looked destined to regain the lead.
The lively Wright-Phillips delivered a precise cross for strike partner Jacob Brown, but the latter misjudged his effort and failed to finish from point-blank range.
A frenetic start to the tie took another twist shortly after the half-hour mark when the visitors snatched the lead.
Carvalho combined well with Decordova-Reid before his scuffed effort was directed in off the post, Muniz claiming a touch but the goal credited to Carvalho.
Undeterred by falling behind, Stoke finished the first period strongly and should have levelled after more good work by Wright-Phillips, but nobody in red and white was on hand to convert the youngster’s cutback.
The home side’s dominance continued beyond the interval and their efforts were rewarded inside the hour when Baker marked his first start for the club in style.
After ending a 17-year association with Chelsea last week, the midfielder let fly from 30 yards with an accurate strike arching into the far corner beyond a helpless Jack Bonham.
Buoyed on by a vocal crowd, Stoke rallied in their efforts to secure a first home league win since mid-November, but they suffered a sucker punch in the 72nd minute.
Muniz went agonisingly close with a header off the crossbar, but Decordova-Reid was in position to fire in the rebound through a sea of bodies.
Stoke debutant Jaden Philogene-Bidace, on loan from Aston Villa, saw a late deflected strike hit the foot of the post and another effort whistle narrowly over the target.
However, Fulham held onto a slender lead to extend their unbeaten away record to seven games, strengthening their claim for the Championship title in the process.
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