Fulham guaranteed themselves at least a place in the Championship play-offs and dented visitors Cardiff City's hopes with a 2-0 win at Craven Cottage on Friday.

The Cottagers' success came while Luton Town climbed off the bottom of the table by beating fellow strugglers Huddersfield Town.

Aleksandar Mitrovic marked his return to Fulham's team from a three-game suspension with his 24th league goal this season, guiding a 35th-minute penalty into the top-right corner after he was fouled by Cardiff's Dion Sanderson.

Josh Onomah doubled Fulham's advantage in the 66th minute with a quick touch and shot that was arrowed across Alex Smithies.

Scott Parker's side saw out a win that moved them up to third and closed the gap to West Brom in the second automatic promotion berth to four points, while sixth-placed Cardiff could slip to ninth if results elsewhere go against them this weekend.

A pair of second-half goals saw Luton claim an important 2-0 victory over Huddersfield at the John Smith's Stadium.

Sonny Bradley nodded home James Bree's corner within four minutes of the restart, before Elliot Lee fired beyond Jonas Lossl after James Collins' attempt came back off the post.

Luton consequently moved above Barnsley and two points adrift of the last currently safe teams, with Huddersfield just two points clear of the bottom three in 19th.

Fulham striker Aleksandar Mitrovic has been handed a three-game ban by the Football Association (FA) for elbowing Leeds United defender Ben White.

The FA has retrospectively punished Mitrovic for an incident that happened just two minutes into Leeds' 3-0 Championship win over Fulham at Elland Road on Saturday.

Referee Tony Harrington did not see the incident at the time but Mitrovic admitted the act constituted violent conduct and he has therefore been banned.

Fulham, fifth in the table, are 10 points behind leaders Leeds and seven adrift of second-placed West Brom with seven games to go.

Mitrovic is the Championship's joint top scorer having netted 23 of his team's 52 goals in 2019-20.

The 25-year-old will miss matches against QPR, Birmingham City and Nottingham Forest.

Fulham moved just one point behind Championship leaders West Bromwich Albion after securing back-to-back victories with a 1-0 win over Blackburn Rovers.

Fellow promotion hopefuls Nottingham Forest are just one point further back in fourth after they condemned Leeds United to a second straight defeat.

In-form Brentford sit fifth after a thrilling win over Middlesbrough and Preston North End, who complete the top six, won 2-1 at Wigan Athletic.

Elsewhere there were victories for Huddersfield Town, Derby County, Cardiff City and Stoke City, while Barnsley drew 1-1 in their Yorkshire derby with Sheffield Wednesday and Reading were held by the same scoreline at home against Hull City.
 

CALAMITOUS CASILLA AT FAULT AS LEEDS LOSE AGAIN

Kiko Casilla made a crucial goalkeeping error for the second week running as Leeds slipped to third defeat in four Championship matches, losing 2-0 at Forest.

After conceding a soft goal in his side's 1-0 defeat at home to QPR a week earlier, Casilla allowed Sammy Ameobi to score with a near-post shot that the former Real Madrid man should have had covered.

Marcelo Bielsa's never recovered and failed to create the glut of chances that have typified their games this season, although Liam Cooper ought to have scored when presented with a free header from which Brice Samba made a one-handed save at the second attempt.

Having weathered some late Leeds pressure, Forest doubled their lead when the excellent Joe Lolley robbed Jack Harrison of possession and ran clean through on goal where he squared to Tyler Walker to score in the last minute of the game.

MITROVIC STRIKE EXTENDS FULHAM'S GOOD FORM

Aleksandar Mitrovic scored his 20th Championship goal of the season to earn Fulham the points at Ewood Park that made it four wins out of five in the league for the Cottagers.

Blackburn went into the game undefeated at home since September but were lucky to go in goalless at the break after Bradley Johnson almost turned Joe Bryan's cross into his own net, but Rovers goalkeeper Christian Walton scrambled across to clear the danger.

Fulham kept the pressure on in the second half and Walton made a diving, one-handed save from a Tom Cairney shot 11 minutes after the restart.

There was nothing Walton could do to as Mitrovic latched onto Bryan's cut-back and fired a low shot into the corner of the net from 12 yards to became the first player to reach 20 goals across the top four tiers of English football in 2019-20.

 

WATKINS WINNER KEEPS GRIFFIN PARK BUZZING

Ollie Watkins followed hot on the heels of Mitrovic with his 20th Championship goal of the season and his strike clinched a dramatic 3-2 victory for Brentford over Middlesbrough.

He struck late to settle matters after Boro had twice come from behind to run the Bees close, with Thomas Frank's side hosting Leeds on Tuesday. 

Derby won by the same scoreline at Swansea City, Tom Lawrence proving to be the hero for Phillip Cocu's men. 

Aleksandar Mitrovic's first-half brace saw Fulham keep the pressure on the top two in the Championship with a 2-1 win at Swansea City.

The Serbia striker nodded in a 22nd-minute opener after Aboubakar Kamara hit the crossbar, and he moved on to 15 league goals for the season by lifting into the top corner from 12 yards following an error by Kristoffer Peterson two minutes before half-time.

George Byers was one of Swansea's most effective performers in their search for a response and got the goal his efforts deserved by heading past Cottagers goalkeeper Marek Rodak midway through the second half.

Fulham held out, though, to move two points behind second-placed Leeds United, while Swansea are vulnerable in the final play-off position heading into the weekend.

Josh Brownhill struck a dramatic 98th-minute winner as 10-man Bristol City beat Charlton Athletic 2-1 on Wednesday and moved to fourth in the Championship table.

Bristol City are now within three points of Championship leaders West Bromwich Albion after the late show.

Fulham, Hull City and Derby County also won on Wednesday, while Huddersfield Town and Middlesbrough played out a goalless draw.
 

TENSE AFFAIR AT ASHTON GATE GOES TO THE WIRE

Lee Bowyer's Charlton took a 65th-minute lead at Bristol City through Macauley Bonne but the hosts levelled proceedings thanks to substitute Famara Diedhiou's close-range header.

Diedhiou was then shown a straight red card for violent conduct with just four minutes of normal time remaining after he appeared to kick Charlton's Jason Pearce.

The incident sparked a brawl and tensions remained high throughout a lengthy period of injury time.

Brownhill then proved the hero, taking two touches to control a Kasey Palmer cross before scoring with an excellent finish to send the Ashton Gate crowd wild.

MITROVIC'S MILESTONE

Fulham moved up to seventh as Aleksandar Mitrovic's hat-trick inspired a 3-2 win over Luton Town at Craven Cottage.

Scott Parker's men led 2-0 and 3-1 thanks to the Championship's top-scorer, who has now scored 11 times in 13 league matches this season.

"We know how good a player Mitro is - his hat-trick tonight summed that up, really," Parker told Sky Sports.

The hat-trick was Mitrovic's first in English football since arriving from Anderlecht in 2015 with Newcastle United.

FOREST'S MISSED CHANCE

Josh Magennis scored and was sent off as Hull City won 2-1 at Nottingham Forest, a result that saw Sabri Lamouchi's side drop to eighth.

Magennis and Jarrod Bowen netted before Matty Cash pulled one back for Forest, who could have moved second with victory.

Northern Ireland international Magennis was given a straight red card with 22 minutes remaining for a reckless challenge on Forest's Ben Watson but Grant McCann's side held on for all three points.

Meanwhile, Middlesbrough remain just one point above the relegation zone after they were held by Huddersfield, who are one place below them in 22nd.

Graeme Shinnie scored a stoppage-time winner as Derby County edged Wigan Athletic 1-0, claiming a third consecutive home victory.

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