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Huddersfield 1-4 Fulham Cham 44 1617 - Daily Mail

last updated Monday 24th April 2017, 8:35 PM

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Richard Gibson at Daily Mail

Huddersfield Town (1) 1-4 (1) Fulham

Fulham strengthened their top-six position and delivered a psychological blow to one of their potential Championship play-off opponents with a typically free-scoring win.

The four-goal dispatch moved the London club to within two points of Huddersfield – and also offers Newcastle the opportunity to clinch automatic promotion to the Premier League with a win over Preston on Monday evening.

And it confirmed Slavisa Jokanovic’s men as the form team of the second tier at the business end of the season.

Despite selling Ross McCormack and Moussa Dembele - their leading marksmen in 2015-16 - last summer, they are the division’s top scorers, and a team churning out victories with ease.

This, their 10th in 15 attempts, was done and dusted halfway through despite a horror start.

Huddersfield were handed the perfect start when left-back Chris Lowe surged upfield and was felled in the area by Floyd Ayite, the Fulham man tracking back.

There were no protests from the visitors, who trailed seconds later when Lowe took the kick himself and slotted beyond Marcus Bettinelli’s dive.

It was not only the lead that Huddersfield held in the early stages of the contest. They also monopolised possession against a team that has enjoyed the ball more than any other in the Championship.

And for the opening quarter hour it appeared that Fulham were on course to fall out of the play-off spots in the same week they punctuated them.

However, once Fulham got into their stride they totally over-ran their higher-placed opponents.

Sone Aluko displayed some sublime touches around the area and although his first couple of flicks and threads came to nothing, it was not long before they began to pay dividends.

Moments after Ryan Sessegnon hoisted over the top following a jinking run and centre from Johansen, Aluko was involved centrally once again and the ball broke invitingly for the anticipating Scott Malone, who took it in his stride and deposited low into the far corner.

Then, within seconds of surviving Huddersfield’s riposte to their equaliser – Christopher Schindler heading Aaron Mooy’s corner wide – Fulham turned the game on its head.

Ayite, the transgressor in the first penalty incident, then turned hero at the other when his aggressive burst was interrupted by Jonathan Hogg.

Tom Cairney calmly converted his 11th league goal of the season, to move ahead of suspended striker Chris Martin as the club’s joint-top scorer.

That honour was short-lived, however, as Stefan Johansen’s quickfire double provided Fulham with a gaping advantage at the break.

First, the Norwegian playmaker arrived on cue to round off a stunning break from Slavisa Jokanovic’s team.

Aluko was bumped this way and that on the byline in front of the dugouts but somehow wriggled out of the traffic to instigate another attack, and when Sessegnon’s attempt from 20 yards was blocked it rebounded into the path of Johansen whose drive flew past Danny Ward.

That took him into double figures for the campaign, and he was soon gifted number 11 when Hogg laboured on the ball in front of the back four.

Johansen stole it off him and slotted past the advancing Ward to jeers from the home support at the John Smith’s Stadium.

Any lingering hope David Wagner’s team had of getting back into the contest vanished with their failure to convert one of two fine chances either side of half-time.

Philip Billing, their giant German midfielder, rose highest to glance a header agonisingly wide from a Lowe corner and then Rajiv van la Parra also grazed the upright with a curling effort shortly after the re-start.

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