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Monday, November 14, 2022

Mitrovic breaks record as Fulham crush Luton 7-0 to seal Championship title | Championship

Aleksandar Mitrovic took his Championship goal tally for the season to 43 as Fulham sealed the title in devastating fashion with a 7-0 thrashing of Luton at Craven Cottage.

Tom Cairney opened the scoring in the 29th minute – Fulham’s 100th goal of the league campaign – and Kenny Tete made it two 10 minutes later to ensure the hosts were in control at the break.

The floodgates opened in the second half with goals from Fabio Carvalho, Bobby Decordova-Reid, the substitute Jean Michaël Seri and a double from Mitrovic – confirming a record tally in the second tier for the Serbia striker. It was the third time this season that Marco Silva’s side have scored seven goals.

Luton, playoff hopefuls who fielded the emergency loanee Matt Ingram, mustered the first chance of the game when Kal Naismith drove forward from midfield and forced a smart save from Marek Rodak.

It was not a sign of things to come, however, as Fulham asserted themselves. They had their first effort midway through the first half, Ingram comfortably keeping out a Mitrovic shot, but the home fans did not have to wait too long for their side to break the deadlock. Harry Wilson followed up some neat skill by finding Cairney, who smashed home from the edge of the box.

The Hatters’ problems were compounded by the loss of the midfielder Fred Onyedinma, who was injured in the buildup to the goal, and was replaced by Peter Kioso.

The result, and the destination of the title, appeared assured six minutes before the interval when Tete latched on to a poor clearance and unleashed a superb effort into the bottom corner.

Luton looked in danger of buckling under the Fulham onslaught and almost conceded a third before the break when Wilson rounded Ingram, but Tom Lockyer did well to clear off the line. Cairney went close to notching his second goal two minutes after the restart, his curling attempt shaving the top of the bar.

Fulham’s third arrived on 54 minutes, however, courtesy of Carvalho with the aid of Mitrovic and Wilson. Mitrovic got his name on the scoresheet for the first time just after the hour, working his way into the area and finishing with confidence, and three minutes later Decordova-Reid made it five with a slick turn and shot.

Seri added a sixth 11 minutes from time with a 20-yard effort – his first of the campaign – before Mitrovic rounded off a perfect night in stoppage time.

Aleksandar Mitrovic celebrates scoring the seventh goal.
Aleksandar Mitrovic celebrates scoring the seventh goal. Photograph: John Sibley/Action Images/Reuters

The Serbia striker’s two goals gave him the highest-scoring English league season record for over half a century. The Serbia striker has surpassed Guy Whittingham’s 42 goals for Portsmouth in 1992-93, the most in the current 46-game league format, by one with one game remaining of the Championship season.

Marco Silva backed Mitrovic to take his form into the Premier League next season. The 27-year-old managed only three top-flight goals last term as the Cottagers were relegated, but Silva feels he will return a wiser player in 2022-23.

“He will be more confident next season we need to be that as a club as well,” Fulham’s manager said. “All of us have to improve every single year. We cannot judge him just by the goals he scores next season – we have to analyse many other things from him.”

The 44-year-old added: “We have to prepare well ourselves. It’s not really different from this season. The challenge will be tougher, but it was tough this season. We’ve built and created something special this season. If I don’t have ambition at my age then something is wrong. I have to congratulate all of them, our full squad, the staff working behind the scenes.”

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