OUTCLASSED: Mitrovic brace helps Fulham beat Birmingham
PA - Simon Marper
Fulham returned to the top of the Sky Bet Championship with a comfortable 4-1 victory over Birmingham at St. Andrew’s.
Marco Silva’s side always looked in charge of the contest and two goals in each half backed up a dominant display.
Denis Odoi ended a three-year wait for a league goal as his 10th-minute header put the visitors in front, with Aleksander Mitrovic’s 44th-minute penalty doubling Fulham’s advantage.
Impressive debutant Nathaniel Chalobah won the spot-kick, and the deadline-day signing from Watford played a key role in the game’s third goal.
The 26-year-old former Chelsea youngster cut open the Blues defence with a delightful pass which was finished off in equally clinical style by Harry Wilson in the 54th minute.
Wilson’s killer strike arrived a minute after the introduction of Troy Deeney, and it was always going to be a mountainous task for the hosts to come back after that.
Mitrovic, who celebrates his 27th birthday on Thursday, got another early present with his second goal of the game after 83 minutes, before Deeney opened his Birmingham account from the penalty spot with three minutes remaining.
Coventry are up to fourth and just a point behind Fulham following a 1-0 home victory against Cardiff.
Viktor Gyokeres maintained the 10-man Sky Blues’ 100 per cent home record in the Championship. The Swedish forward’s fourth goal of the campaign condemned the Bluebirds to their first away defeat of the season.
Fankaty Dabo was shown the first red card of his career as the clock hit 90 for a foul on Marlon Pack.
On-loan pair Andraz Sporar and Onel Hernandez secured a 2-0 win for Middlesbrough at Nottingham Forest to heap more pressure on under-fire home boss Chris Hughton.
Forest have now taken just one point from their opening seven Championship matches and a run of 13 league games without a success under Hughton represents the club’s worst run since February 2004.
The writing looked on the wall as soon as Slovenia international Sporar, recruited from Sporting Lisbon, opened the scoring in the first half, with Forest having only scored more than one goal once in their last 25 league matches.
Luton substitute Danny Hylton extended Bristol City’s home jinx with a stoppage-time equaliser in a 1-1 draw at Ashton Gate.
The hosts led after 57 minutes when Cameron Pring was fouled on the left touchline and Nathan Baker headed home from Jay Dasilva’s free-kick.
But, with 90 minutes on the clock, City goalkeeper Dan Bentley failed to gather the ball at the feet of Carlos Mendes-Gomes, who crossed from the left by-line for Hylton to tap into an unguarded net.
It meant the Robins are still without a home win since January, a club-record run of 14 games, 11 of them under boss Nigel Pearson.
Mario Vrancic’s first-half penalty miss proved costly as 10-man Stoke were held to a 1-1 draw by Barnsley in an ill-tempered clash.
The hosts, who had won three of their previous four league games, would have fired themselves into the top two if it was not for a superb Brad Collins save just before the break.
After Tommy Smith was sent off late on for the home side, Stoke coaches Dean Holden and Rory Delap, plus Barnsley assistant Joe Laumann were also shown red cards following an ugly touchline melee.
Swansea were held to a goalless draw for the second successive Sky Bet Championship home game as Millwall goalkeeper Bartosz Bialkowski proved the Lions’ hero.
Bialkowski made several excellent second-half saves to deny Swansea a first home league win under Russell Martin, with his 90th-minute stop from Liam Walsh’s free-kick the pick of the bunch.
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