Fulham salvaged some pride from a disappointing season as they beat Everton 2-0 at Craven Cottage.
Tom Cairney broke the deadlock thirty seconds into the second half with his first goal since he sent Fulham back to the top flight with the play-off final winner over Aston Villa almost a year ago.
Ryan Babel then clinically finished a counter-attack that saw Cairney and Ryan Sessegnon heavily involved as the home side delivered an encouraging response to their humbling at the hands of Watford, which had confirmed an immediate return to the Championship. They also managed only a third league clean sheet of a dismal campaign, which showed just how below-par Everton were as the visitors looked a shadow of the side that has serious European ambitions.
Fulham made the far brighter start with Aleksandar Mitrovic easily winning his battle against Phil Jagielka and testing England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford three times during the early exchanges. He forced Pickford into a smart low save after getting the better of Jagielka and then saw a powerful header from a corner tipped over by the Everton goalkeeper later in the half. Pickford was a spectator, however, when Mitrovic’s magnificent curler clipped the crossbar after Fulham’s talisman was found by Calum Chambers.
Everton offered next to nothing in attack, only threatening to steal an undeserved lead when Dominic Calvert-Lewin came within inches of meeting Seamus Coleman’s right-wing cross right on the stroke of half time. Fulham got the advantage their dominance merited within a minute of the restart when a fine move down the left prised open the away defence. Babel played a one-two at pace with Mitrovic and squared for Cairney to slot home a first Premier League goal in eleven years.
Calvert-Lewin spurned a glorious chance to equalise when he contrived to lift a finish over Sergio Rico and wide of goal when he seemed easier to convert Gylfi Sigurdsson’s glorious ball. Babel made sure of victory for the hosts when he collected a lovely lay-off from Mitrovic and raced away from Coleman before chipping the advancing Pickford to score his fourth Fulham goal of an impressive loan spell.
FULHAM (4-2-3-1): Rico; Fosu-Mensah (Christie 66), Bryan, Le Marchand, Ream; Chambers, Anguissa (Odoi 89); R. Sessegnon, Babel (Seri 83), Cairney; Mitrovic. Subs (not used): Fabri, Kebano, Elliott, Schurrle.
BOOKED: Le Marchand, Ream.
GOALS: Cairney (46), Babel (69).
EVERTON (4-2-3-1): Pickford; Coleman, Digne, Zouma, Jagielka; Gueye, Gomes; Richarlison (Tosun 84), Bernard (Walcott 84), Sigurdsson (Lookman 74); Calvert-Lewin. Subs (not used): Stekelenburg, Keane, Baines, Davies.
REFEREE: Lee Probert (Wiltshire).