LONDON ⸺ Fulham’s Premier League survival hopes suffered a damaging blow after a 2-1 home defeat by Leeds United on Friday left them mired in the relegation zone with games running out.
Scott Parker’s side had the chance to escape from the bottom three with a win but goals by Patrick Bamford and Raphinha earned Leeds the points at Craven Cottage.
Joachim Andersen had cancelled out Bamford’s goal before halftime but Fulham ultimately paid the price for defensive mistakes and missed opportunities.
For Leeds it was their first victory in London in 16 attempts and they thoroughly deserved the three points that moved them up to 11th place on 39 points from 29 games.
Fulham’s failure will come as a huge relief for fourth-bottom Newcastle United who would have slipped into the drop zone had the London side managed a victory.
Parker’s team remain on 26 points from 30 matches while Newcastle, who play at Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday, are two points better off having played two fewer games.
“For the majority we controlled the game,” Bamford, who missed out on his first England call-up this week, said. “We created a lot of chances, I think the result was fair.”
“I think they (Fulham) will be fighting and might get out of it (relegation) — you never know.”
There were ominous signs for Fulham as Leeds twice had the ball in the net early on but both goals were ruled out.
First, Luke Ayling’s perfectly placed header looped into the net and the defender celebrated by unleashing his impressive main of hair that he wears tied back.
But the joy at scoring his first goal for Leeds was short-lived as the dreaded VAR lines ruled that Tyler Roberts had been marginally offside before crossing.
Raphinha also had the ball in the net for Leeds but he was clearly offside.
Fulham’s first chance came after a comedy of errors in the Leeds area with the loose ball dropping to Josh Maja who fired goalwards but his shot was well saved by Illan Meslier.
Leeds went ahead on the half hour when Fulham switched off from a throw-in and Jack Harrison drilled the ball across the area for Bamford to guide home.
Fulham levelled nine minutes later when Andersen volleyed home through a crowd from a corner and they briefly got on top with Andre-Frank Anguissa forcing a fine save from Meslier.
The hosts failed to gain any momentum after the break but the match swung in one crucial minute.
Ademola Lookman spurned a glorious chance to put Fulham in front when he failed to make proper contact with the ball in front of goal and 27 seconds later Leeds scored the winner.
A counter-attack ended with Bamford sliding a pass to Raphinha and the Brazilian fired past Alphonse Areola.
Fulham looked desperate at times after that as they sought an equaliser that never really looked likely and Leeds could have won by a bigger margin in the end.
Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Ken Ferris; Reuters