Fulham’s climb up the Championship table continued as Kit Symons’ side produced a clinical performance to put four past Sheffield Wednesday at Craven Cottage this afternoon.
The hosts soaked up an early spell of pressure from Stuart Gray’s side before putting the visitors to the sword. Ross McCormack curled in a fabulous free-kick to open the scoring eleven minutes before the break and Shaun Hutchinson doubled the lead right on the stroke of half time when he headed in Bryan Ruiz’s free-kick. Lasse Vigen Christensen finished off a fast Fulham break to make it three and a late Cauley Woodrow penalty rounded off the scoring – as the emphatic win lifted the Londoners above Wednesday in the Championship table.
A lively contest swung from end to end in the opening stages. Hutchinson had a header well blocked by Tom Lees before the Wednesday defender missed a glorious chance to give the Owls the lead, contriving to head well wide from two yards out at the far post after Fulham’s marking had failed from a corner. Chris Maguire then tested Marcus Bettinelli with an angled low drive and Kieren Westwood was called into action for the first time to thwart Hugo Rodallega after the Colombian forward had robbed Lees in a dangerous area.
Only a timely goalline clearance from Kostas Stafylidis prevented Stevie May from giving Wednesday the lead as another corner caused real problems in the Fulham penalty area and Lewis McGugan’s free-kick ruffled the side netting with Bettinelli beaten. McCormack made no such mistake when presented with an opportunity at the other end, after Glenn Loevens had crudely cut short a strong run from Seko Fofana. The former Leeds striker, booed throughout by the visiting fans, curled a magnificent effort into corner from 25 yards.
Bettinelli pulled off an excellent reaction stop from May almost immediately as Wednesday stormed forward and Jeremy Helan’s fantastic run took him away from four Fulham defenders but he couldn’t find a finish to match – screwing his shot off target. Wednesday paid for that at the end of the first half when Hutchinson headed home his first Fulham goal emphatically from a Ruiz free-kick – with the marking leaving something to be desired.
Wednesday kept throwing men forward and Gray had signalled his intentions by sending on Atdhe Nuhiu and Royston Drenthe at half-time. But Fulham had the better chances with McCormack bending another long-range free-kick fractionally wide. With the visitors overcommitting at a corner, Christensen took full advantage with a surging run through midfield. The Dane played it wide to Rodallega and kept on running – converting the Colombian’s precise return pass to make it three.
Christensen passed up a great opportunity to add a second within as many minutes when he dwelt over a fine Rodallega ball and Westwood was able to pinch the ball off his toes from a couple of yards out. Substitute Cauley Woodrow was denied a penalty when he seemed to have been taken out by the Wednesday goalkeeper three minutes from time, but there was no doubt about the award after an impressive run from teenager Patrick Roberts was cut down by Claude Dielna. Woodrow converted the penalty to put a more resounding gloss on the final scoreline.
FULHAM (4-1-2-1-2): Bettinelli; Grimmer, Stafylidis, Hutchinson, Bodurov; Parker; Fofana (Williams 64), Christensen; Ruiz (Roberts 87); McCormack, Rodallega (Woodrow 82). Subs (not used): Kiraly, Burn, Zverotic, Hyndman.
BOOKED: Stafylidis, Fofana.
GOALS: McCormack (34), Hutchinson (45), Christensen (67), Woodrow (pen 90+3).
SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY (4-5-1): Westwood; Palmer, Mattock (Drenthe 45), Lees, Loovens (Dielna 71); Semedo, Lee (Nuhiu 45), McGugan, Maguire, Helan; May. Subs (not used): Kirkland, McCabe, Maghoma, Lavery.
BOOKED: Loovens, Helan, Semedo.
REFEREE: Mike Jones (Cheshire).