Championship roundup: Aleksandar Mitrovic hits three as Fulham romp
- Fulham go top after 6-2 thrashing of Bristol City
- Luton beat Bournemouth; Derby move off bottom
Aleksandar Mitrovic took his Championship goal tally to 27 for the season after hitting a first-half hat-trick in Fulham’s 6-2 thrashing of Bristol City at Craven Cottage.
The win, which came on the back of the Cottagers’ 7-0 victory at Reading in midweek, ensured Marco Silva’s side took full advantage of Bournemouth’s earlier defeat at Luton to move top of the table.
The outcome was decided in a thrilling first half in which Nigel Pearson’s visitors twice took the lead through Antoine Semenyo before reaching the interval trailing by three following four Fulham goals in 14 minutes. Neeskens Kebano and Fabio Carvalho added to Mitrovic’s hat-trick with Kebano adding his second after the break to complete the victory. Silva’s side have now scored 64 goals in 25 matches – 20 more than any of their rivals.
Kal Naismith’s stunning goal in stoppage time secured Luton’s thrilling victory at Kenilworth Road. After leading 2-0 at the break and then seeing the Cherries hit back to level during the second period, it looked like the spoils would be shared until Naismith took aim from 20 yards.
Luton’s manager, Nathan Jones, said his side were “full value for our win … We weren’t categorically better than them, but I thought we were the more aggressive side. We created more problems, especially first half, and then we finished with real intent. It’s a wonderful way to win a game against a very, very, very good side.”
Joe Rothwell’s third goal of the season was enough to guide Blackburn to a 1-0 victory over struggling Cardiff and move them closer to the automatic promotion places. Tony Mowbray’s side held on for the points despite going down to 10 men when Ryan Nyambe picked up a second yellow card in the 76th minute.
Mowbray, whose side have taken 28 points from the last 30, played down the run of form, saying: “I don’t get excited because I know how tough this league is. The next game is always there ready to bite you on the backside. You can get trapped by looking too far ahead.”
Charlie Austin’s late winner against his former club gave QPR a 1-0 victory over promotion rivals West Brom. Austin, on as a substitute, forced his way in front of Taylor Gardner-Hickman to head Chris Willock’s cross into the far corner of the net with just a minute remaining. It took Rangers above Albion to fourth place.
A stoppage-time goal from Matt Crooks saw Middlesbrough come from behind to beat Reading 2-1 at the Riverside Stadium. Andy Carroll opened the scoring for the visitors after 67 minutes with a header before Crooks equalised in the 85th minute and headed home the winner late in the game. The result moved Boro into the play-off places, while Reading still hover above the relegation zone.
Lewis Grabban’s dramatic stoppage-time winner settled an entertaining contest at the Den as Nottingham Forest beat Millwall 1-0. Defeat was cruel on the hosts who were the better side for large periods of the first half. Forest were much improved after the interval, though, and had several chances before Grabban – against his old club – poked home from a yard out right at the end.
Swansea ended their three-game losing streak after Flynn Downes’ late goal rescued a 1-1 draw at Huddersfield. The visitors had fallen behind to Danel Sinani’s 15th-minute opener following a slow start to the game but they responded well, with Ryan Manning and Cyrus Christie both going close to a deserved equaliser.
The Welshmen then bossed the entire second half, with Huddersfield barely able to get out of their half. Olivier Ntcham, Michael Obafemi and Manning all saw chances go begging as Swansea bombarded the Terriers’ box and they finally earned their reward when Downes turned home Korey Smith’s cross with 12 minutes to go.
Coventry revived their play-off challenge with a first win in seven league games as they thumped relegation battlers Peterborough 4-1. Captain Matt Godden struck twice as Mark Robins’ men enjoyed league success for the first time in more than two months with a fine showing at the Weston Homes Stadium.
A Tom Lawrence double earned battling Derby a 2-0 win at home to Sheffield United and lifted them off the bottom, boosting their hopes of pulling off a great escape. The Wales international left two defenders in his wake before sliding the ball past Wes Foderingham for the opening goal after 69 minutes, and sealed victory nine minutes later with a precise finish from the edge of the area. The win made it 13 points from their last five games for Derby, who are now just eight points from safety.
Preston missed the chance to move back into the top half as Scott Hogan’s late goal snatched a point for Birmingham in a 1-1 draw at Deepdale. Patrick Bauer’s instinctive first-half finish put Preston on course for a crucial three points, but Hogan popped up right at the end to seal a dramatic point for the away side.