Fulham 3-2 Southampton: Hosts win thriller in Claudio Ranieri's first game in charge
Highlights and report as Fulham moved off the bottom of the Premier League
By Pete Hall at Craven Cottage
Last Updated: 24/11/18 5:43pm
A double from Aleksandar Mitrovic ensured Claudio Ranieri got off to a winning start in charge of Fulham, who edged a 3-2 thriller over Southampton at Craven Cottage.
Fulham's defensive woes continued early on, as they went behind with just 18 minutes on the clock, after Stuart Armstrong finished well from just inside the box to score his first goal for Southampton.
However, Ranieri's side kept battling away, and got themselves level with 33 minutes on the clock through Mitrovic - his first goal for 585 minutes of Premier League football - before Schurrle got on the end of a superb Ryan Sessegnon cross to turn the match on its head two minutes before half-time.
The goals continued to flow, with Armstrong firing home an equaliser eight minutes after the break after some neat build-up play, but it was Mitrovic who decided the contest, brilliantly volleying the winner in the 63rd minute to get Ranieri up and running with three points, a victory that moves Fulham off the bottom into 19th, one point behind Saints in 17th.
Fulham: Rico (7), Christie (6), Mawson (6), Odoi (6), Le Marchand (6), Chambers (6), Sessegnon (8), Cairney (8), Seri (5), Schurrle (7), Mitrovic (8)
Subs: Ayite (6), Johansen (6), Kamara (N/A).
Southampton: McCarthy (6), Soares (6), Yoshida (6), Hoedt (5), Targett (6), Armstrong (8), Lemina (6), Hojbjerg (6), Redmond (5), Gabbiadini (5), Austin (5)
Subs: Elyounoussi (6), Obafemi (6).
Man of the match: Aleksandar Mitrovic
Southampton were by far the better side in the opening exchanges, and really should have taken the lead as early as the sixth minute, but Manolo Gabbiadini fired straight at Fulham goalkeeper Sergio Rico, who was already on the floor, from point-blank range.
Saints did not have to wait too much longer for their goal, though. A quick throw caught Fulham napping, Nathan Redmond clipped a cross to the back post, Maxime Le Marchand could only head clear as far as Armstrong, who took a touch past the defender before lashing the ball home.
The goal jolted Fulham into life, as they started to chase everything down and put the pressure on Southampton, and soon enough they were level through Mitrovic. Tom Cairney spread the ball wide to Le Marchand, who curled a pinpoint cross onto the head of Mitrovic, who arched his back and diverted the header into the bottom corner.
Keen to laugh off his reputation for tinkering pre-match, Ranieri kept his word, and made just one change to the side beaten 2-0 at Liverpool last time out, with Jean Michael Seri in for André Frank Zambo Anguissa. For Saints, there was no Danny Ings, whose hamstring problem kept him out of the squad. Charlie Austin, likely still seething after his rather public frustration with the refereeing in Saints’s draw with Watford started. Matt Targett also came in for the suspended Ryan Bertrand.
It was all Fulham for the rest of the first half, and they got their reward for their constant pressure with Sessegnon raising the roof with a superb assist. The young winger darted through two defenders before firing a sublime cross into the path of Schurrle who steered the ball into the net to put Fulham in front.
The Premier League's most porous defence continued to look vulnerable, though, and soon enough Armstrong had breached it once more. The back heel from Cedric Soares was perfect for the onrushing Armstrong, who used the side of his boot to arrow the ball past the despairing dive of Rico in the home goal.
Mitrovic's second was worthy of winning any game. Sessegnon again with the assist, but all the credit this time went to Mitrovic, who brilliantly controlled the volley into the net. Fulham were forced to hang on for dear life at the end, with Rico making two smart saves late on, but they hung on for only their second league win of the season.
- Fulham manager Claudio Ranieri has won his first league game in charge of a team in six of his last seven such attempts (L1).
- Mark Hughes has won just three of his 21 Premier League games in charge of Southampton (14.3 per cent), the worst win rate of any Saints manager in the competition (min. 20 games).
- Fulham striker Aleksandr Mitrovic has scored more headed goals than any other Premier League player this season (4).
- Fulham picked up their first Premier League win in 10 matches, losing seven of the previous nine (2).
- Fulham are without a clean sheet in their last 17 Premier League games, conceding at least twice in 15 of those. The Whites are the only side in the Premier League yet to keep a clean sheet in 2018-19.
Man of the match - Aleksandar Mitrovic
The Serbia international has looked shorn of confidence of late, but when it comes to digging in, Mitrovic comes into his own. Both his goals were expertly taken, but made to look easy. The header for his first took real finesse to guide the ball away from Saints goalkeeper McCarthy, while the winner was right out of the top drawer. On his day, there are few better marksman in the Premier League.
Fulham travel to Chelsea for a west London derby next Sunday, live on Sky Sports, while Southampton are in Carabao Cup action against Leicester in midweek, before hosting Manchester United on Saturday.