Fulham underlined their promotion credentials by scoring seven times at Ewood Park this evening, inflicting upon Blackburn Rovers their worst ever home defeat. Fulham’s biggest league win since 1969 was built around sensational contributions from wingers Neeskens Kebano and Harry Wilson, who both scored twice. Aleksandar Mitrovic notched his nineteenth goal of an already incredible campaign and Blackburn, who had Jan-Paul van Hecke sent off for a head high assault on Wilson in the first period, had no respite when the Serbian was substituted. His replacement Rodrigo Muniz grabbed a late double to round a memorable away day for Marco Silva’s side.
The visitors were in control from the outset with Michael Hector’s return to the side due to Tosin Adarabioyo’s suspension largely passing unnoticed. Fulham’s early intent was displayed by an ambitious attempt from Mitrovic to beat Thomas Kaminski from the halfway line and they had to wait only two further minutes to go in front. Bobby Decordova-Reid marked his hundredth appearance for the club with some dazzling footwork as he danced away from two tacklers along the byline and cut an inviting cross back for Kebano, who rifled high into the net from nine yards out.
Mitrovic doubled Fulham’s lead before the twenty minute mark with a thumping header from Jean Michael Seri’s corner after the in-form marksman had peeled away from his marker. Rovers did mount an attempt to respond with Tyrhys Dolan forcing a near post save from Marek Rodak and Bradley Johnson seeing his shot deflected wide. Ben Brereton-Diaz, whose twelve goals have underpinned Blackburn’s encouraging start, was kept relatively quiet by the away defence with the Chilean international blazing over from his first glimpse of goal.
Blackburn’s hopes of getting back into the contest disappeared after half an hour when van Hecke was dismissed for an awfully mistimed challenge that saw his boot make contact with Wilson’s head. Jared Gillett’s red card was a formality and Mowbray quickly reorganised sending on Hayden Carter for John Buckley. Wilson wasn’t seriously hurt and he quickly fashioned a chance for Harrison Reed, who was denied a goal against the side he spent time on loan by a smart fingertip save from Kaminski. The home goalkeeper also did well to thwart Mitrovic before half time and you felt Rovers were pleased to get into the interval only two down.
Fulham’s pressure continued in the second period. Wilson almost caught out Kaminski from long range but his 50-yarder dropped wide of goal and the Belgian goalkeeper then spread himself well to save from Decordova-Reid after an intelligent pass from Mitrovic put the former Bristol City forward through on goal. It should certainly have been three ten minutes after the break but Antonee Robinson squandered a glorious opportunity after outstanding approach play from Wilson, shooting wastefully wide from seven yards
But the third goal was coming and Mitrovic turned provider with a raking 40-yard ball out to the right to release Wilson, who raced into the area, faced up a defender and tucked a right-footed finish between Kaminski and the near post. Wilson needed just four minutes to double his tally, curling home clinically on his left foot after being found by a perceptive Mitrovic pass. Mitrovic was then withdrawn in favour of Muniz, but this was no act of mercy on Marco Silva’s part.
The Fulham head coach also introduced former Rovers favourite Tom Cairney as his peerless playmaker continues to regain match sharpness after such a long spell on the sidelines. He almost created a goal for Muniz but the Brazilian headed a floated over the bar. Kebano grabbed his second when he was allowed to spin inside the area having been located by Cairney and his snapshot deflected in off the grounded Johnson.
The Congolese winger, one of Fulham’s most consistent performers this season, then produced a peach of cross for Muniz to turn home number six. Fabio Carvalho, who has reportedly turned down Fulham’s offer of a new deal, came off the bench and might have found the target himself but the teenager drove into the side netting after being played in by the peerless Wilson. Brittle Blackburn’s misery was completed in the first minute of injury time when Muniz majestically headed in a seventh from Robinson’s excellent cross.
Silva’s side sent out an ominous warning by ruthlessly running through Rovers, who possessed the second best home record in the division at the start of play. To round off the perfect evening, the Whites are now just two points behind league leaders Bournemouth, who lost their unbeaten record after suffering a surprise home defeat at the hands of Preston North End.
BLACKBURN ROVERS (4-3-3): Kaminski; Nyambe, Edun, Lenihan, van Hecke; Johnson, Travis (Rankin-Costello 62), Rothwell; Buckley (Carter 32), Brereton-Diaz, Dolan (Butterworth 63). Subs (not used): Pears, Khedra, Clarkson, Poveda.
BOOKED: Edun, Rankin-Costello.
SENT OFF: van Hecke (30).
FULHAM (4-2-3-1): Rodak; Odoi, Robinson, Hector, Ream; Reed, Seri (Cairney 59); Wilson, Kebano, Decordova-Reid (Carvalho 73); Mitrovic (Muniz 67). Subs (not used): Gazzaniga, Tete, Mawson, Onomah.
GOALS: Kebano (6, 79) Mitrovic (19), Wilson (54, 58), Muniz (81, 90+1).
REFEREE: Jarred Gillett (Australia).