BY MASON MCDONAGH
Michael Obafemi’s 57th minute goal was the decider at Craven Cottage as Southampton advanced to the third round of the Carabao Cup.
Fulham boss Scott Parker will be disappointed with the result, but pleased that his side can now prioritise their bid to earn promotion from the Championship.
After just seven minutes Fulham could have been ahead through either Bobby Decordova-Reid or Cyrus Christie.
Reid saw a fantastic effort from a free-kick on the edge of the box crash down off the crossbar, before the ball found its way to Christie in the air inside six yards, but he could only head straight at Alex McCarthy.
After that however, chances were few and far between in the first half, with Fulham dominating most of the possession and the Saints mainly looking to break on the counter attack.
They almost made one of those counter attacks count in first half stoppage time when Nathan Redmond raced in behind and cut back to curl an effort goalbound, but he could only fire his effort over the bar.
Early in the second half Fulham could have been down to 10 men when Joe Bryan hacked down Sofiane Boufal who was driving at the Fulham defence, but the full-back luckily escaped with just a yellow.
On 53 minutes Southampton had a golden opportunity to take the lead when Oriol Romeu was gifted the ball on the edge of the box, but the Spaniard saw his effort well saved from close range by Marek Rodak.
In the second half the Premier League side clearly upped their game, taking the game to Fulham more and pressing much higher up the pitch.
And the increase in their tempo was rewarded just before the hour mark when Obafemi tapped in a Redmond cross for the opening goal.
Redmond again found himself in behind on Fulham’s right, opened up his body and this time opted to pass, finding Obafemi who simply couldn’t miss.
Substitute Danny Ings had two glorious opportunities to put the game to bed in the final 15 minutes, but both times the Englishman had his close range efforts saved by Rodak in the Fulham goal.
Fulham struggled both to create anything of note in the final third and contain the visitors in the second half, who comfortably saw out the victory.
Fulham (4-3-3): Rodak; Christie, McDonald, Le Marchand, Bryan; Johansen (80), Onamah, O’Riley; Kamara (90+2), Decordova-Reid, de la Torre Substitutes: Francois (80) Taylor-Crossdale (90+2)