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Fulham dashed Luton Town’s hopes of securing their first Premier League point, as Carlos Vinicius, coming off the bench, scored a decisive goal in the second half, leading Fulham to a 1-0 win at Craven Cottage on Saturday.
Fulham’s performance was less than convincing against a resilient Luton side that defended with many players behind the ball. Nevertheless, they did enough to climb to ninth place in the standings. Luton, still without a win, remain rooted to the bottom of the table with a match in hand.
“To be honest, it was a tough match. We anticipated their 5-3-2 formation, always sitting deep. But this afternoon, they surprised us by using a 5-4-1 formation,” Silva told reporters.
“It’s not something we encounter every week at this level. But we had to adapt to it and show respect.”
Before the game, a minute of silence was observed in memory of former club owner Mohamed Al-Fayed, who passed away last month. Fulham dominated possession in the first half, but they struggled to create clear opportunities, while Luton came closest to scoring.
Luton’s Tahith Chong was denied on a solo run, and Carlton Morris volleyed just wide, with Jacob Brown’s header hitting the post.
Three minutes into the second half, Amari’i Bell had a chance to give Luton the lead when he connected with a cross from Brown, but his side-footed volley lacked the necessary power, and Bernd Leno made a comfortable save.
With home fans growing increasingly frustrated, Fulham manager Marco Silva introduced Vinicius just after the hour mark, and the Brazilian forward made an immediate impact, capitalizing on a goalkeeper error by Thomas Kaminski to score a tap-in.
“In the first half, we lacked dynamism to create chances,” Silva added. “In the second half, we showed some improvements, were more dynamic, and the two substitutions (Vinicius and Alex Iwobi) had a significant impact on the game.”
In the closing stages, Luton’s center-back and captain, Tom Lockyer, played as a forward and found space for a free header in the final minute of stoppage time but failed to find the target.
“We had three really big chances, hit the woodwork with a free header, had a free header at the death with Tom Lockyer, and Amari’i’s chance was also significant,” Luton boss Rob Edwards told BBC Sport.
“We didn’t concede many chances, but they took the one big chance they had, and that’s the ruthless nature of this league. But I saw progress and a better performance. The players are really committed. We fought diligently and were a real threat on the counter-attack.”