Fulham claimed a club record-breaking 15th Premier League victory on a successful trip to the South Coast.
Following a cagey first half that ended goalless, Carlos Vinicius got the Whites in front early in the second half, before the returning Aleksandar Mitrović headed in a second.
After a successful Bank Holiday Monday last time out, Marco Silva went with an unchanged XI on the South Coast. There was one very notable change to the bench however, as Mitrović made a welcome return to the squad following his eight-game ban.
In front of a 3200-strong Fulham following, the Whites started on the front foot. Willian was causing problems down the left as per usual and combined nicely with Tom Cairney and Antonee Robinson on separate occasions to create some early crossing opportunities, but to no avail.
Southampton managed to carve their way into the contest and got a shot on target after 20 minutes through Paul Onuachu after he pinched back possession high up field, but Bernd Leno was there to calmly collect.
Fulham went straight down the other end and got an effort of their own off next, as Willian’s cross was steered towards goal by Vinicius from the six-yard box, but was cancelled out with a big block from a Saints defender.
There were strong shouts for a handball in Fulham’s favour after Vinicius’ header appeared to blatantly strike Lyanco on the arm, but these appeals were for some reason waved away.
The game’s best chance so far came five minutes before the interval. After a breakaway down the right from Kenny Tete and Harry Wilson, the ball found its way to Harrison Reed who crossed to Willian at the back post. Our Brazilian winger showed his class with a touch to set and then a touch to volley, only being prevented the opener by a goal line clearance.
The Saints thought they’d started the second half with a bang after Carlos Alcaraz slotted a finish past Leno, but the flag was raised instantly for offside.
Fulham went straight down the other end once again and this time got themselves in front. A lovely Cairney ball to started the move to find Wilson, who then slotted through Harrison Reed. The ball seemed to be getting away from our midfield man, but a brilliant slide tackle won it back and diverted it into the path of Vinicius, who duly tucked it away from close.
The home side needed to get back in this game, and had an opportunity to through Onuachu, but his header from Kyle Walker-Peters’ cross flew well over the bar.
With 25 minutes remaining our Serbian talisman made his comeback to the pitch, replacing goal scorer Vinicius to a rapturous away end chorus, and it took all of seven minutes for him to make his mark. Harry Wilson was involved again, floating a beautiful ball in with his right foot, and Mitro did the rest, stooping low to send a diving header into the back of the net.
Kamaldeen Sulemana got a shot off on the spin with the clock ticking down, but it squirmed narrowly wide of Leno’s post in the end. Manor Solomon then drew a save from Alex McCarthy in the final action of the game.
The result marks Fulham’s greatest ever amount of wins in a Premier League season with 15, whilst also confirming relegation for the Saints.
Southampton: McCarthy, Walker-Peters, Bednarek, Lyanco, Maitland-Niles (Adam Armstrong 82′), Ward-Prowse, Lavia, Walcott (Sulemana 62′), Alcaraz (Elyounoussi 73′), Stuart Armstrong (Djenepo 73′), Onuachu (Mara 62′)
Subs: Caleta-Car, Aribo, Adam Armstrong, Bree, Mara, Djenepo, Sulemana, Elyounoussi, Bazunu
Fulham FC: Leno, Tete, Tosin, Diop, Antonee Robinson, Reed, João Palhinha (Lukić 77′), Wilson (Kebano 78′), Cairney (De Cordova-Reid 69′), Willian (Solomon 78′), Carlos Vinícius (Mitrović 65′)
Subs: Rodák, Duffy, Kebano, Mitrović, Solomon, Cédric Soares, De Cordova-Reid, Lukić, Harr
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