Saturday 15 December 2018

Aleksandar Mitrovic bags brace as Fulham earn first win of Premier League season

The Serbian continued his fine goalscoring record for Slavisa Jokanovic’s side.

Aleksandar Mitrovic, left, continued his fine form for Fulham (John Walton/PA)
Aleksandar Mitrovic, left, continued his fine form for Fulham (John Walton/PA)

By Andy Sims, Press Association Sport

Aleksandar Mitrovic and Andre Schurrle fired Fulham to their first points of the season as they beat Burnley 4-2.

Serbian striker Mitrovic, whose 12 goals on loan last term helped Fulham to promotion back to the Premier League, set about the task of keeping them there in style.

Jeff Hendrick had cancelled out a stunning goal from Ivory Coast midfielder Jean Michael Seri when Mitrovic, now a permanent fixture at Craven Cottage following his £22million switch from Newcastle, struck with two headers in two minutes.

James Tarkowski pulled one back for Burnley but Schurrle’s late strike ensured Sean Dyche’s side, beaten in Europa League qualifying by Olympiakos on Thursday, were left empty-handed.

Just three minutes had elapsed when Seri, another of Fulham’s big-money summer recruits, came up with a memorable first goal in English football.

Collecting a ball inside from Luciano Vietto 25 yards out, Seri turned, looked up and launched a ferocious shot which left Clarets goalkeeper Joe Hart grasping at thin air.

Yet if Burnley were feeling the effects of their midweek trip to Greece it was not immediately apparent, as they took just seven minutes to equalise.

A loose pass from Maxime Le Marchand in midfield allowed them to break with Aaron Lennon leading the charge.

The winger raced to the edge of the area before squaring the ball to Hendrick, who needed a couple of bites at the cherry before beating Fulham keeper Marcus Bettinelli at the far post.

Bettinelli had not even featured in Fulham’s squad for the first two matches, but boss Slavisa Jokanovic dropped Fabri and overlooked fellow Spaniard Sergio Rico, both summer signings, to hand the former England Under-21 international a surprise recall.

Hart was the busier keeper, though, getting down well to deny Schurrle at his near post and keeping out a fierce Timothy Fosu-Mensah drive.

However, when Hart misjudged Tom Cairney’s deep cross Mitrovic stole in at the far post to head Fulham back into the lead.

Moments later Mitrovic struck again, this time with a glancing header from Vietto’s cross.

Shellshocked Burnley did manage to get back into it four minutes before half-time, although there was a hint of offside as Tarkowski prodded in Ben Mee’s header from a corner.

They could not muster a response after the break, though, and Fulham wrapped up the victory seven minutes from full-time.

Mitrovic was denied a hat-trick when Hart pushed his shot against a post but Borussia Dortmund loanee Schurrle, who had earlier clipped the crossbar, drilled in the rebound.

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