Derby County abruptly ended Fulham’s promotion to the Premier League as they came from behind to claim a crucial win that kept their own faint hopes of relegation alive.
Fulham were on their way to victory which would have secured an instant return to the top flight thanks to Fabio Carvalho’s well-made opener with five games to go.
But 19-year-old Luke Plange equalized for the hosts five minutes into the second period, before Fulham defender Tosin Adarabioyo converted a Tom Lawrence cross into his own net.
Realistically, the result is unlikely to change the narrative of the campaign, with Fulham still needing just three points to progress and a single loss in the Rams’ last four games means Reading need just one point to defeat Derby to bring down.
But ahead of potential new owner Chris Kirchner, the result underscored the fight to remain at a club that should give manager Wayne Rooney some much-needed stability over the next few weeks to build for the future.
The first consecutive defeat this season is a huge disappointment for Fulham – and that defeat will hurt because it looked so unlikely for 45 minutes.
Without ever having been at their best, Marco Silva’s men had too much for their hosts.
Carvalho’s finish at the end of a one-two with Bobby Decordova-Reid showed why Jurgen Klopp is keen to bring the Portuguese youngster to Liverpool and he would have had two had Ryan Allsop not been an excellent save.
Allsop fended off 38-goal Aleksandar Mitrovic with a flying save after half-time and the Serb was disallowed a goal for offside when he pocketed the rebound after Carvalho’s shot hit the base of a post.
By this point, Derby had equalized as Plange finished a flowing move that also involved local pairing Liam Thompson and Lee Buchanan.
The derby winner was somewhat lucky but Plange deserves credit for putting pressure on Tosin.
In a frenetic final, Malcolm Ebiowei tested Marek Rodak with a long-range shot before Harrison Reid had to deflect an injury-time shot while Derby defied to secure a memorable triumph.
- 31allsopBooked at 89 minutes
- 41collect90 minutes booked
- 5BielikReplaced bySibleyat the 84′protocol
- 42ThompsonBooked at 33 minutesReplaced byEboseleat the 72′protocol
- 32EbioweiReplaced byrichardsat the 90+7′protocol
- 10LaurentiusBooked at 61 minutes
- 1A native
- 20N WilliamsReplaced byMuniz Carvalhoat the 81′protocol
- 16As a matter of fact
- 23Bryan90 minutes booked
- 10cairneyReplaced byserialat the 72′protocol
- 8thWilsonReplaced bykebanoat the 72′protocol
- 14By Cordova-Reid
- 19Muniz Carvalho
- Robert Jones
Game ends, Derby County 2, Fulham 1.
Second half ends, Derby County 2, Fulham 1.
Substitution, Derby County. Carlos Peliza Richards replaces Malcolm Ebiowei.
Joe Bryan (Fulham) is yellow carded for a bad foul.
Foul by Joe Bryan (Fulham).
Festy Ebosele (Derby County) wins a free kick on the right wing.
attempt saved. Tosin Adarabioyo (Fulham) header from the center of the box is saved in the center of the goal. Assisted by Aleksandar Mitrovic with a header.
Corner of Fulham. Cashed in by Ryan Allsop.
attempt saved. Harrison Reed (Fulham) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the center of the goal.
attempt blocked. Rodrigo Muniz (Fulham) right footed shot from the center of the box is blocked.
attempt saved. Rodrigo Muniz (Fulham) right footed shot from the center of the box is saved in the center of the goal.
Hand ball by Fabio Carvalho (Fulham).
Corner of Fulham. Cashed in by Eiran Cashin.
Eiran Cashin (Derby County) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Rodrigo Muniz (Fulham) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Eiran Cashin (Derby County).
attempt saved. Malcolm Ebiowei (Derby County) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Lukas Plange.
Ryan Allsop (Derby County) is yellow carded.
attempt failed. Aleksandar Mitrovic (Fulham) header from the center of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Neeskens Kebano with a cross.
Handball by Bobby De Cordova-Reid (Fulham).