Fulham 1-0 Reading: Stefan Johansen fires Cottagers into second
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 10/04/18 11:01pm
Fulham moved into the Sky Bet Championship top two after a nervy 1-0 victory over Reading saw them leapfrog Cardiff, who failed to win at Aston Villa.
Stefan Johansen's first-half strike was enough to help the club extend their club-record unbeaten run to 20 games.
Fulham were expected to provide the early running but it was struggling Reading who made the brighter start as Tim Ream cleared off the line to deny Jon Dadi Bodvarsson, while Dave Edwards saw an effort blocked.
The hosts had made a sluggish start but from their first chance of the game after 25 minutes they took the lead. Johansen had the simple task of tapping home from four yards out for his eighth goal of the season following Matt Targett's low cross from the left.
That settled Fulham who came close to a second when Aleksandar Mitrovic headed straight at Vito Mannone from Targett's corner.
Mitrovic was unfortunate again as his diving header from Johansen's free-kick went just wide of the post. The on-loan Newcastle striker was seeing plenty of the ball and blazed over on the half-volley after some fine play by Ryan Sessegnon had set up the chance.
Mitrovic then headed over off-balance from Targett's cross from the left in the final action of the first half.
Fulham started the second half in similarly quiet fashion to the first 45 minutes as Reading did their best to frustrate the hosts. Mitrovic hit the post from 20 yards but the referee blew for offside and it would not have counted.
The visitors were struggling to create chances of their own with no-one able to reach Liam Kelly's free-kick. At the other end, Johansen lost his footing in front of goal after Mitrovic had flicked on Tom Cairney's pass.
Johansen went close again when his left-footed drive from Targett's cross was saved by Mannone with a flag for offside preventing Mitrovic from converting the rebound.
The tension was increasing around Craven Cottage as a chested back pass by Ream nearly let in Modou Barrow for the visitors.
Lucas Piazon's 30-yard free-kick for Fulham was then saved by Mannone at the second attempt as the hosts strived for a second goal.
The chances continued to come for the Cottagers with sub Neeskens Kebano unfortunate not to score after a mazy run inside the area.
Leando Bacuna was then sent off for the visitors in injury time for a lunge on Sessegnon.
Slavisa Jokanovic: "The table's not important, the situation is still not under our control as Cardiff have one game more. This is the situation. We are not thinking so much about the position. On one hand we've guaranteed one target, the play-offs. The next step is the Brentford game and we will be aiming to win the game.
"We are really satisfied. We had a lot of desire but were not clinical enough. We showed our ambition to win the game. We know we must be ready for the next step."
Paul Clement: "I'm disappointed with the red card. We lose a very good player for the next games, we have some very important games. You could see with the body language he's disappointed. But we're all disappointed. We've lost someone important.
"I thought the challenge was reckless and showed some frustration we weren't going to get the result. It's a strange statistic that I've had three red cards in four games and I did not have any at my two previous clubs. I thought it was a good, competitive game. Congratulations to Fulham as there was a lot of pressure on them."