Fulham 2 Blackburn Rovers 0 – Cairney scores a scorcher as Whites off and running

BY DANIEL MARSH

Fulham bounced back from their opening weekend defeat with a 2-0 victory over Blackburn Rovers.

A wonderful strike from captain Tom Cairney midway through the first half was enough to set Fulham on their way before a late Aleksander Mitrovic goal sealed the three points for Scott Parker’s side on a blustery afternoon at Craven Cottage.

The visitors started buoyantly and could have been ahead inside the opening 30 seconds as Bradley Johnson headed wide from close-range after some excellent individual play from Adam Armstrong on the right-hand side.

Both sides were intent on playing out from the back, taking full advantage of the new goal-kick laws. Fulham’s use of the ball in the opening quarter of the half could be summed up as pedestrian at best, and the Craven Cottage faithful were restless.

Rovers had a constant attacking threat in the form of Armstrong on the right-hand side, and his cross found Johnson lurking dangerously again at the far-post, his shot charged down by the marauding debutant Harry Arter.

The hosts were beginning to craft opportunities of their own though, with Mitrovic and Anthony Knockaert looking lively. The latter was looking a menace with driving runs in behind on the right, although both him and Mitrovic were guilty of spurning half-chances.

Fulham did find their breakthrough just after the half-hour mark, with a goal of real quality from skipper Cairney.

A corner from the right-hand side was defended well initially by Blackburn, before Arter got hold of the loose ball, laying possession to his midfield partner Cairney. The Scotsman took a touch to get the ball out of his feet before lashing the ball into the top corner, ensuring the Whites took a slender lead into the interval.

The hosts came out looking far more purposeful with possession, and were giving the forward trio of Mitrovic, Knockaert and Cavaleiro more of the ball but were restricted to mainly half-chances.

Blackburn saw their best chance of the half spurned by Sam Gallagher, who headed wide from a hanging Bennett cross midway through the second half, with home keeper Marcus Bettinelli mostly untroubled.

Just when the game looked to be fizzling out, Fulham made sure of the win.

A driving, bustling run from full-back Joe Bryan saw a dangerous low cross fizzed across goal bundled home by Mitrovic from close-range to get the Whites up and running for the new campaign at the second time of asking.

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