Goals from Bobby de Cordova-Reid, Tim Ream and Aleksandar Mitrovic inspired Fulham to victory over nine-man Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.
Dominant throughout, Marco Silva’s side were helped by Palace’s indiscipline in either half, which put a stop to their hopes of a fourth straight home win.
Tyrick Mitchell was shown a red card for a foul on Kenny Tete just three minutes after his side went behind, and James Tomkins followed him before the hour.
The result strengthens the visitors’ unlikely European push, as they sit in eighth, just two points off the top six.
Heading towards the half-hour mark, Palace, having struggled to impose themselves early on, almost took the lead.
Clever play by Michael Olise freed Jordan Ayew inside the area, but he saw his effort crash off the bar.
Fulham made them pay moments later when De Cordova-Reid headed the visitors into a deserved lead as Mitrovic pounced on slack play from Joachim Andersen before finding his team-mate with a pinpoint cross.
The hosts’ misery was compounded further when Mitchell was dismissed after Tete reached a loose ball first and was caught by the Palace man.
Any chance of a quick Palace resurgence were quashed 12 minutes after the break. Tomkins, on a booking, appeared to elbow Mitrovic off the ball, resulting in a second red card of the game.
Ream then reacted quickly to Mitrovic’s knock-down from a corner to double Fulham’s lead on 71 minutes.
Referee Andy Madley checked the VAR monitor for a potential handball against the Serb, only to stick with his original decision, before Mitrovic made it three 10 minutes from time.
Palace punished after losing cool
The two red cards were undoubtedly the moments on which this game turned. Mitchell’s challenge on Tete came just three minutes after De Cordova-Reid’s opener, and Tomkins’ moment of madness forced them into damage control.
But even with 11 men, they didn’t do nearly enough to win the game or even avoid defeat, marking a disappointing return to Premier League action after the World Cup.
Patrick Vieira named an attacking line-up but that intent was never transformed into a coherent performance as they were roundly beaten.
Festive cheer as Fulham march on
Fears of a third successive relegation to the Championship are disappearing at a rapid rate for Fulham, and they looked well at home at this level again.
It is now 22 points from 16 games under Silva this term, just six fewer than they got in the entirety of their last Premier League campaign two years ago.
The manner in which they dominated the ball and made possession count was hugely impressive, and with Mitrovic grabbing his 10th goal of the season, they have a striker in the sort of form to make them dream of a European place, or even more than that.
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- 17ClyneSubstituted forWardat 67′minutes
- 5TomkinsBooked at 57mins
- 3MitchellBooked at 34mins
- 28DoucouréSubstituted forMilivojevicat 84′minutes
- 15SchluppSubstituted forRiedewaldat 83′minutes
- 9J Ayew
- 7OliseSubstituted forHughesat 84′minutes
- 10EzeSubstituted forRichardsat 60′minutes
- 26João PalhinhaSubstituted forCairneyat 75′minutes
- 14De Cordova-ReidSubstituted forWilsonat 81′minutes
- 18PereiraSubstituted forHarrisat 85′minutes
- 20WillianSubstituted forJamesat 82′minutes
- 9MitrovicSubstituted forAlves Moraisat 85′minutes
- 30Alves Morais
- Andy Madley
Match ends, Crystal Palace 0, Fulham 3.
Second Half ends, Crystal Palace 0, Fulham 3.
Corner, Fulham. Conceded by Vicente Guaita.
Attempt saved. Kenny Tete (Fulham) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top centre of the goal. Assisted by Harrison Reed.
Hand ball by Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace).
Attempt missed. Joachim Andersen (Crystal Palace) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Luka Milivojevic with a cross following a set piece situation.
Foul by Antonee Robinson (Fulham).
Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Attempt blocked. Tom Cairney (Fulham) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Harry Wilson.
Attempt blocked. Tom Cairney (Fulham) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.
Attempt missed. Harry Wilson (Fulham) header from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Antonee Robinson with a cross.
Substitution, Fulham. Carlos Vinícius replaces Aleksandar Mitrovic.
Substitution, Fulham. Luke Harris replaces Andreas Pereira.
Substitution, Crystal Palace. Will Hughes replaces Michael Olise.
Substitution, Crystal Palace. Luka Milivojevic replaces Cheick Oumar Doucouré.
Substitution, Crystal Palace. Jairo Riedewald replaces Jeffrey Schlupp.
Foul by Tim Ream (Fulham).
Jordan Ayew (Crystal Palace) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Substitution, Fulham. Dan James replaces Willian.
Substitution, Fulham. Harry Wilson replaces Bobby De Cordova-Reid.
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