Burton Albion 0-2 Fulham: Match Report
Stefan Johansen and Scott Malone on target as Fulham beat Burton
Second-half goals from Stefan Johansen and Scott Malone took Fulham to within three points of the Sky Bet Championship play-offs as they condemned Burton Albion to a fifth successive home league defeat.
Norwegian international Johansen unerringly drilled home just three minutes into the second half, Fulham ruthlessly capitalising on some sloppy Burton defending on the halfway line. Sone Aluko intercepted a wayward pass and burst towards the box, eventually crossing low for Johansen to finish from the edge of the box.
Malone made the game safe with just under 20 minutes remaining, finishing off a rapid counter attack as the visitors outnumbered Albion, Chelsea loanee Lucas Piazon finding the full-back's overlapping run inviting him to ruthlessly lash the ball home to seal a 2-0 result.
Following their victory at QPR on Saturday, the Brewers were unable to call upon their Fulham loan duo of Lasse Vigen Christensen and Cauley Woodrow to face their parent club, whilst deadline-day signing Michael Kightly was not signed in time to be eligible to make his debut.
For Nigel Clough's men it was another opportunity squandered to register successive league wins and they remain three points above the drop zone having played two games more than nearest rivals Wigan Athletic.
Chances were sparse in the opening 45 minutes.
Whilst Fulham shaded possession and looked more comfortable on the ball they failed to force home goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin into a save in the first half.
Former Burton loanee Malone twice went close to marking his return to the Pirelli Stadium with a first-half goal but two volleyed shots from the edge of the box failed to find the target before the defender finally got his goal in the second half.
Skipper Tom Cairney also missed with a curling effort from 22 yards, a deflection carrying his effort further off target.
Johansen went close to doubling his tally on two occasions, an arcing shot across goal missing the far post and another driven effort just tipped round the post by McLaughlin as Fulham went in search of more goals.
Piazon was denied by the legs of the Burton keeper as the visitors looked to put a gloss on the result and Cairney's audacious lob from the edge of the box landed just on the roof of the net as Burton were forced to defend more and more.
Substitute Chris O'Grady flashed a shot wide with seven minutes to go in the hope of getting the hosts back into it but Fulham, who had produced one of the best away performances seen at the Pirelli Stadium this season, never looked in any serious danger of relinquishing their control of the final result.