1-0, min. 67, Piazon. 2-0, min. 90, Johansen
Fulham 2-0 Nottingham Forest: Whites gifted victory at Craven Cottage

Fulham 2-0 Nottingham Forest: Whites gifted victory at Craven Cottage

Lucas Piazon and Stefan Johansen took advantage of individual errors to move Fulham into fifth

Samuel Smith

Fulham moved up to fifth in the Sky Bet Championship table thanks to a 2-0 victory against Nottingham Forest.

Lucas Piazon opened the scoring midway through the second period, squeezing a shot through the hands of Costel Pantilimon who will be disappointed with his effort to save the attempt. 

Stefan Johansen then ensured the three points in the final minute, taking advantage of another mistake from Joe Worrall before firing past Pantilimon

First half lacks quality

Both sides began the game set up in 4-1-4-1 formations and subsequently matched each other in the first half. The game was largely very open but bereft of true quality in the final third, meaning chances were scarce.

The visitors had the first chance when Matt Cash found his way beyond debutant Matt Targett but his cut-back failed to find youngster Ben Brereton in the middle. 

Fulham were the better side in the opening 20 minutes, happy to pass the ball around while Forest, typical of an Aitor Karanka side, sat back and attempted to soak pressure. A well-worked corner routine led to their first chance of the game but Piazon's goal-bound shot was blocked. Oliver Norwood then drew a good save from Pantilimon from 25 yards. 

Ryan Sessegnon and Ryan Fredericks had plenty of joy on either side, getting in behind on regular occasions but their crosses were either poor or found nobody due to a lack of movement from striker Rui Fonte. The first half was summed up when Sessegnon was freed down the left by Kevin McDonald but miss-kicked into the Forest fans behind the goal. 

Cash and Brereton were the target of many of Forest's passes when they won possession. It was the former who had the best chance of the half midway through the opening period when he took advantage of Fulham's defenders dithering on the ball, won possession and bore down on goal, only to see his tame effort saved by Marcus Bettinelli.

Fulham steal victory in second half

The second half began in very similar fashion to the first. Fredericks marauded down the right, evading a challenge from Kieran Dowell, before crossing to Sessegnon whose header was poor. 

The game livened up soon after, Ben Osborn forced a corner from which the impressive Worrall struck the post with a header from a narrow angle. 

Fulham then introduced new signing Aleksandar Mitrovic, whose mere presence lifted a Craven Cottage that had previously been timid and quiet. This subsequently boosted the home side's performance and they went close through Piazon. The Brazilian weaved his way into the penalty area but lifted his shot wide.

A mazy, energetic run from Sessegnon presented Mitrovic with his first chance but the Serbian's touch was poor, perhaps a sign of a player who had barely appeared for parent club Newcastle United in the first half of the season. Sessegnon then had a chance of his own, climbing above Eric Lichaj to meet Fredericks' cross but heading over. 

Fulham eventually took the lead with their next attack on 67 minutes with a goal out of absolutely nowhere. Piazon picked up the ball around the halfway line, drove towards the penalty area and, with few options available, had a shot which squeezed through the hands of Pantilimon and into the roof of the net. 

The goal eased a few nerves from the home side and Mitrovic could have doubled their lead a minute later had he connected with Fredericks' low cross in front of goal. 

Brereton felt he should have had a penalty with 15 minutes remaining when he appeared to be tripped by Tomas Kalas while bearing down on goal, but the referee waved away his strong appeals. 

Bettinelli then made an outstanding double save to keep his side in front, first denying Osborn before beating away Apostolos Vellios' goal-bound attempt when it seemed the whole stadium was waiting in expectation for the net to bulge.

It proved to be an important stop as Bettinelli's side doubled their lead in the final minute of normal time. Johansen, who had been having a quiet game, dispossessed Worrall on the halfway line, ran through on goal and finished well past Pantilimon. 

The victory puts Fulham well into play-off contention after their poor start to the season.