Fulham secured promotion back to the Premier League in emphatic fashion when Aleksandar Mitrovic took his tally for the season to 40 with a brace in a comfortable 3-0 win over Preston.
The Cottagers might have secured their place on Good Friday, but a 2-1 loss at the Derby was the first time they had suffered back-to-back defeats this season.
However, they rallied at Craven Cottage and took the lead with their first real chance of the game when Mitrovic scored.
Carvalho added Fulham’s second and just before half-time, Mitrovic scored the 40 Sky Bet Championship goals when he touched and fired the ball past the Preston goalkeeper.
The Serbian striker had already surpassed Ivan Toney’s championship scoring record with 14 games remaining in the season and now finds himself just two behind Guy Whittingham’s 42 goals in a second-tier 46-game season for Portsmouth in 1992- 93.
Fulham have been dominant in the second tier this season and secured promotion with 26 wins, eight draws and just eight losses, having scored 98 goals.
Preston came close to taking the lead in the fifth minute when Cameron Archer ran down the left before playing on Ched Evans, whose shot bounced off Tosin Adarabioyo and the hosts were able to deflect the ball.
Goalkeeper Marek Rodak had to be alert two minutes later to deflect Ben Whiteman’s shot over the crossbar and keep the score level.
Fulham scored on their first real attack of the game, with Joe Bryan coming in from the left and cleverly playing on Mitrovic behind Preston’s baseline for the Serb to slot into Daniel Iversen’s legs.
The Cottagers had a chance to increase their lead in the 24th minute when the ball went from Neeskens Kebano to Mitrovic and he backheeled Carvalho but his shot went wide.
The hosts doubled their advantage shortly after half an hour of play when Kebano’s ball into the box was fortunately deflected off Carvalho’s trajectory and Carvalho shot first into the back of the net.
Fulham added a third just before halftime, with Mitrovic scoring his 40th of the season in clinical fashion, taking a bunt and firing home after Harry Wilson, who tops the Championship assist charts, cut him off.
Mitrovic came agonizingly close to his hat-trick less than five minutes into the second half when he pounced on a loose ball and raced towards goal, only for Iversen’s outstretched leg to deflect the ball off the crossbar.
Iversen then denied the 27-year-old again in the 53rd minute as Fulham continued to press for a fourth goal, but it lacked the same intensity as in the first half and the score remained 3-0, with jubilant fans entering the room. field at the final whistle with his place in the Premier League confirmed.
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