Aleksandar Mitrovic maintained his stunning scoring streak with a hat-trick as Fulham claimed a 3-0 Championship victory over West Brom at Craven Cottage in a game that ended with both teams reduced to 10n men.
The result means Fulham opened up a four-point gap to third-placed Albion, while Valerian Ismael’s side were forced to count the cost of a contentious penalty decision and a mistake by Robert Snodgrass that gifted the Cottagers a two-goal half-time lead.
The visitors were also unhappy with the decision to send off wing-back Darnell Furlong in the 70th minute, with Fulham’s Tosin Adarabioyo also collecting a red card in the 85th minute.
Mitrovic took full advantage of the chances that came his way, rapping up his second treble of the season in the 82nd minute as he scored for the fourth-successive match.
The striker has now scored eight goals during those last four games and his second treble of the season takes his tally so far this campaign to 18 league goals.
Albion found themselves trailing in the 20th minute after referee Michael Salisbury adjudged Kyle Bartley’s challenge on Mitrovic to be a foul.
Bobby De Cordova-Reid’s clever through ball picked out Mitrovic as he went on a run into the West Brom box and the striker went to ground as Bartley attempted to recover the ball.
The visitors contested the decision but – once the protests had died down – Mitrovic placed the resulting penalty beyond goalkeeper Sam Johnstone’s dive.
The visitors’ task became even harder five minutes before the interval when they gifted Fulham a second goal.
Prior to that, Albion had worked their way back into the game and were looking increasingly dangerous.
But they lost any momentum they were starting to build when Snodgrass played a backpass towards Johnstone without spotting Mitrovic lurking outside the area.
And the Fulham forward reacted sharply to intercept and direct the ball past the Albion keeper.
It was a long way back from that point for West Brom but they might have halved the deficit two minutes after the restart had Jordan Hugill managed to connect with Conor Townsend’s cross.
Townsend was the Baggies’ main threat and the left wing-back served up another good cross that Jake Livermore volleyed over from just four yards out.
There was more misery for Albion when Furlong was sent off in the 70th minute for a challenge on Harry Wilson, although the West Brom player protested he had made contact with the ball first.
Mitrovic added his third from close range after being set up by Wilson moments before Adarabioyo was sent off after an ugly challenge on Grady Diangana.
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