Mitrovic treble gets Fulham back on track

Fulham 3 Luton Town 2

An Aleksandar Mitrovic hat-trick got a rampant Fulham back to winning ways.

The Serb opened the scoring on 16 minutes and grabbed two more after the break to take his tally of domestic goals in another increasingly prolific season to 11.

Scott Parker was looking for a reaction following Saturday’s supine defeat at Stoke and the early strike – after Ivan Cavaleiro had played a short pass across the edge of the box from the left – was just what the doctor ordered.

Mitrovic needed no second invitation, side-stepping a defender before unleashing a rocket that keeper James Shea could only wave at as it passed him.

That lit the blue touch paper and soon the night’s stand-out player was stinging the keeper’s palms with another rasping drive,  hooking a bicycle kick over the bar and sliding within inches of a searching low cross from Joe Bryan.

It was no surprise when Fulham’s talismanic striker made it 2-0 after 53 minutes with a simple three-yard tap-in from a low Bobby Reid pass across the face of goal.

Dan Potts reduced the arrears on the hour when he got in front of Bryan to apply a stooping header from a free-kick by Chelsea loanee Izzy Brown.

But Mitrovic was never going to be upstaged and he restored the two goal advantage on 68 minutes to effectively close out the contest, getting on the end of a Bryan cross after a short free-kick routine – the Serb’s glancing header finding the bottom corner.

Sub Kazenga Lualua grabbed a late consolation deep into injury time, touching home a low cross to the far post, but the points were safe.

Fulham led 1-0 at the break but the scoreline was a travesty, such was the abundance of chances they carved out against a perpetually over- stretched Luton defence.

Anthony Knockaert almost cleared a space for Reid but the Luton defence smothered. Tom Cairney and Cavaleiro carried on exposing an over-worked Hatters rearguard to give Knockaert an opening – the winger firing just over.

Before the opening goal, the Whites almost paid for sloppy defending and Brown played James Collins in for a shot at goal which flew towards the far post. But Marek Rodak, in for his league debut in goal was not required to make a save.

Rodak was again no more than an observer when Harry Cornick hit the side-netting early in the second half and Luton showed more spark, with Brown having a close-range shot deflected behind.

But soon after, Knockaert combined with Reid down the right and a low pass gave the Mitrovic his second of the evening, and although there was a response from the Hatters, Mitrovic had one more duty to perform.

Line-up: Rodak – Odoi, Mawson, Ream, Bryan – Reed (McDonald 85), Cairney – Knockaer (Onomah 70), Reid (Johnansen 80), Cavaleiro – Mitrovic. Subs not used: Bettinelli, Le Marchand,  Sessegnon, Kamara.

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