OLE, ole, ole… Ola!
Fulham won their first league game of the season in style with Ola Aina’s sensational strike ending a tiki-taka move Barcelona would have been proud of.
Confidence has been low at Craven Cottage so far this term but Scott Parker’s men were positively brimming with it when Bobby Decordova-Reid gave them an early lead.
It led to a stunning passing move sparked by an Aina backheel which finished with the former Chelsea kid finding the top corner from 23 yards.
West Brom had no answer as their hosts leapfrogged them out of the relegation zone.
Parker knew this was a big game for him after taking just one point from his opening six games back in the big league.
Owner Shahid Khan and son Tony had shown little sentiment to the last man to win them promotion in Slavisa Jokanovic, axing the Serb in November 2018 after a poor start.
And with fellow new-boys West Brom also failing to win yet, the pressure was on Parker to deliver.
Conceding early goals has been his side’s Achilles heel so far this campaign and they almost fell behind here within four minutes when Conor Townsend’s cross hit the crossbar.
But the fact that it did not drop in was a sign that their lack was about to change.
While the return from injury of new signing Joachim Andersen meant Parker was able to put out a backline without any surviving members of last year’s Championship campaign for the first time.
They certainly looked more assured and with Aina and Antonee Robinson racing forward from full-back at every opportunity, the Cottagers looked dangerous,.
It was Robinson who teed up the opener on 26 minutes, standing up a cross to the far post which Aleksandar Mitrovic nodded across for Decordova-Reid to head home.
The goal justified Parker’s bold decision to bench loan star Ruben Loftus-Cheek in favour of the ex-Bristol City man.
It never ceases to amaze what a goal can do for a team’s confidence and ambition.
Within seconds, Fulham were zipping the ball around with purpose, taking no more than two touches, leading to Aina’s goal on the half hour.
The strike itself showed how much more belief Parker’s men had – for Aina will surely never hit a sweeter strike with his weaker left foot again.
Notably, it was Mitrovic who provided the assist again, laying the ball off to the full-back.
The ex-Newcastle man has struggled in front of goal of late, missing a penalty against Sheffield United and failing to net in his previous four league games.
That barren run has now extended to five but if his star striker continues to create goals, Parker will not care.
Karlan Grant missed a good chance to reduce the deficit shortly afterwards but truthfully, West Brom offered little threat for the rest of the game.
And were it not for two goal-line clearances to deny first Tom Cairney’s chip and then Decordova-Reid’s follow-up, it would have been 3-0.
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