Fulham’s hopes of surviving in the Premier League took a further blow as they lost 3-0 at home to Bournemouth.
At the end of a week which saw owner Shahid Khan give under-pressure manager Slavisa Jokanovic a vote of confidence, their naivety was exposed by the improving Bournemouth, as striker Callum Wilson scored either side of a finish by David Brooks.
Two matches into a run of three in the Premier League against Cardiff, Eddie Howe’s clinical team and Huddersfield, all of which Fulham realistically needed to win, they have secured no further points and consequently remain 18th.
Goalkeeper Sergio Rico was handed his league debut as Marcus Bettinelli was dropped having conceded 12 goals in their past three defeats, but the Cottagers’ defence remained so vulnerable that a season of struggle is almost guaranteed.
They started with confidence, needing only until the fourth minute to almost take the lead when Jean Michael Seri floated a fine ball over the top of Bournemouth’s defence as the recalled Aboubakar Kamara raced through to head narrowly over the crossbar.
Rico was first tested shortly after, when on the counter Ryan Fraser curled towards goal from the edge of the area, but did so too close to the goalkeeper.
If Fulham had retained that same purpose it was then undermined when Timothy Fosu-Mensah brought down Wilson with a clumsy, late challenge that left referee Andre Marriner with little option but to award the 14th-minute penalty. Wilson calmly finished low and straight down the middle as Rico dived towards his bottom left corner.
It was after Andre Schurrle tested the diving Asmir Begovic when shooting on the half-volley from Kevin McDonald’s pass midway through the first half that they began to lose belief.
Bournemouth, who defended impressively throughout, allowing Fulham possession in the areas they could do little damage and isolating Aleksandr Mitrovic, then gradually took advantage of their uncertainty and lack of direction throughout the second half.
Simon Francis had already forced Rico into another save with his strike from midfield when, on the counter in the 72nd minute, they doubled their lead.
Adam Smith punished the casual Seri by dispossessing him near the halfway line, Wilson slid to send the loose ball to Fraser, and after carrying possession to the edge of the area, the winger fed Brooks, who calmly finished under Rico.
McDonald was then dismissed for a second bookable offence, leaving Fulham even more vulnerable.
The Cherries wrapped up the scoring in the 85th minute as the hosts’ disorganisation increased.
The impressive Fraser took advantage of time and space to send Wilson through on goal in the area, and he similarly had time to pick his spot and shoot beyond the diving Rico and inside the right post to maintain the visitors’ fine form and keep them in sixth place.