Match ends, Fulham 1, Huddersfield Town 0.
Fulham 1-0 Huddersfield Town: Aleksandar Mitrovic scores stoppage-time winner
Aleksandar Mitrovic scored a stoppage-time winner as Fulham secured what could be a priceless victory against bottom side Huddersfield.
Mitrovic slid the ball low past Jonas Lossl for his eighth goal of the season after being played in by substitute Ryan Sessegnon following a swift counter-attack.
Just minutes earlier, Aboubakar Kamara saw his spot-kick saved by Lossl with eight minutes remaining after Chris Lowe had been penalised for handball.
The win, Fulham's first in seven matches, moves Fulham above Burnley and to within one point of safety. Huddersfield remain bottom after a seventh successive defeat, equalling a club record set in 1955.
The most relieved player on the field will be Fulham striker Kamara, who refused to give the ball to Mitrovic for the Cottagers' late penalty, leaving the Serbian striker furious.
Thankfully for Kamara, he did not regret that miss for long, with Mitrovic's late goal earning what could be a hugely significant victory at the end of the season.
The late drama was at odds with what had been a largely dour game lacking in quality in front of goal.
Mitrovic had Fulham's best opportunity when his powerful near-post header from Joe Bryan's cross was well saved by Lossl.
Huddersfield, meanwhile, failed to truly test Sergio Rico in the Fulham goal, with the game rounding off a truly miserable December that has yielded seven straight defeats for the Yorkshire side.
Mitrovic the hero
The Fulham dressing room was seconds away from being a very frosty place after the dispute between Kamara and Mitrovic over that late penalty.
Striker Mitrovic was seen pleading with the Fulham bench to allow him to take the spot-kick, but Kamara's refusal to give him the ball meant he simply had to score or risk the wrath of his team-mate.
Kamara's dramatic miss led manager Claudio Ranieri to remark after the game that he "wanted to kill" the French striker.
It looked to be the final act of a game that had failed to spark into life and leave Mitrovic seething, but his late intervention again highlights how important the 24-year-old is to Fulham's fortunes.
No player has scored more goals for Fulham this year than Mitrovic's 20, following his initial loan move from Newcastle at the start of February.
The Serbian again had more efforts on goal than any other Cottager but must have been fearing a repeat of what happened against Wolves on Wednesday, when he had eight efforts at goal without scoring.
That made it six games without a goal for the former Newcastle forward since scoring twice in Claudio Ranieri's first game in charge against Southampton as the Italian looks to employ a more conservative approach.
Those tactics are slowly starting to yield results however, with Saturday's win making it three matches unbeaten over Christmas with just one goal conceded to edge closer to safety.
If they are to complete a dramatic escape from the drop, then Mitrovic's goals will be central to it.
Familiar failings haunt Huddersfield
Huddersfield boss David Wagner admitted he "never" stops thinking about relegation in the build-up to this game and that prospect once again edged closer to reality after yet another defeat.
It is clear where Huddersfield's problems lie. The total of 12 goals they have mustered this season is comfortably the worst in the Premier League and leaves them five points adrift of safety at the bottom of the table.
His two strikers, Laurent Depoitre and Steve Mounie, have not scored a goal between them but what will have been most concerning to Wagner at Craven Cottage was their failure to even create any clear-cut chances.
The Terriers had 76% possession in the opening 15 minutes but their only shot on goal was an optimistic long-range effort from Philip Billing that was comfortably saved by Sergio Rico.
They would only muster four shots on target for the rest of the game, but none of them truly tested the Fulham goalkeeper.
When they did commit more men forward, in the first minute of stoppage time, they were caught on the counter-attack, with the defeat wrapping up a miserable month for the Yorkshire club.
The Terriers' have lost seven successive games for the first time in 63 years - equalling a club record - and are the first team in the Premier League to lose seven games in a calendar month since Leicester in April 2001.
Man of the Match - Aleksandar Mitrovic
I'm so happy I want to cry - what they said
Aleksandar Mitrovic speaking to BBC Sport: "We had a small argument and I think it is my job for penalties. He did not think like this but I respect that. I have done the same in the past.
"I don't have a problem with this, he missed and that is part of football. He changed the game when he came on in the second half.
"Last time I said I am so unhappy I want to cry, today I want to say I am so happy I want to cry. It is a big three points, we kept another clean sheet and that is a big improvement for us.
"Today was a six-point game against rivals at the bottom and it was a very important game. It gives us confidence before facing Arsenal. We need to carry on winning games and taking points."
Huddersfield head coach David Wagner speaking to BBC Sport: "It is hard to take. If you see how we conceded it makes it harder.
"We had a good opportunity for the counter and could not finish then could not close the gaps and conceded after Jonas Lossl made a great penalty save.
"Today was a game with a lack of creativity from both sides - some shots from both sides and set plays but it was not a good game. We defended the counter well until the stoppage time situation."
'It's a lack of professionalism and you shouldn't do it'
Former England captain Alan Shearer on Match of the Day: "Mitrovic is the designated penalty taker. It's a lack of professionalism [from Kamara] and you shouldn't do it.
"It's not about him, it's about the team. It's hard enough taking penalties. You have to score this, otherwise you make a right prat of yourself.
"You can see Mitrovic - he's waving to Ranieri saying 'what on earth is going on'. To be fair to him he does go over [to Kamara] and he gets a big cheer off the crowd for that, but he's got to score.
"The manager was absolutely right and fuming. You can't do it."
Cottagers snatch late win - the stats
- Fulham recorded their second victory in eight Premier League games under Claudio Ranieri (D3 L3), with both wins coming at Craven Cottage.
- Huddersfield have failed to score in 20 Premier League matches during 2018 - more than any other side.
- Since the start of last season, only Lukasz Fabianski (4) has saved more Premier League penalties than Huddersfield goalkeeper Jonas Lossl (3).
- Huddersfield striker Steve Mounie had two shots in this game without success, taking his tally to 32 without scoring in the Premier League this season - the most of any player.
- Huddersfield lost all seven of their Premier League matches during December 2018 - the first team to do so in a single calendar month since Leicester City lost seven in April 2001.
- None of Fulham's last 158 home league matches have ended goalless.
Fulham make the short trip to the Emirates Stadium to face Arsenal on New Year's Day (15:00 GMT kick-off). Huddersfield are at home to Burnley the following day (19:45).
- 4OdoiBooked at 44mins
- 26MawsonSubstituted forLe Marchandat 45'minutes
- 22ChristieBooked at 64mins
- 24SeriBooked at 25minsSubstituted forKamaraat 45'minutes
- 19ViettoSubstituted forR Sessegnonat 77'minutes
- 3R Sessegnon
- 20Le Marchand
- 25M Jorgensen
- 6HoggBooked at 69mins
- 21PritchardSubstituted forKachungaat 65'minutes
- 24MounieSubstituted forDepoitreat 65'minutes
- Kevin Friend
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Fulham 1, Huddersfield Town 0.
Offside, Fulham. Aleksandar Mitrovic tries a through ball, but Ryan Sessegnon is caught offside.
Corner, Huddersfield Town. Conceded by Sergio Rico.
Attempt saved. Christopher Schindler (Huddersfield Town) header from the centre of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal. Assisted by Florent Hadergjonaj with a cross.
Attempt missed. Laurent Depoitre (Huddersfield Town) right footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the left.
Goal! Fulham 1, Huddersfield Town 0. Aleksandar Mitrovic (Fulham) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the centre of the goal. Assisted by Ryan Sessegnon following a fast break.
Corner, Huddersfield Town. Conceded by Calum Chambers.
Attempt blocked. Philip Billing (Huddersfield Town) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Elias Kachunga.
Christopher Schindler (Huddersfield Town) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Calum Chambers (Fulham).
Corner, Fulham. Conceded by Zanka.
Attempt blocked. Tom Cairney (Fulham) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Ryan Sessegnon.
Attempt missed. Aleksandar Mitrovic (Fulham) header from the centre of the box is high and wide to the left. Assisted by Ryan Sessegnon.
Attempt missed. Ryan Sessegnon (Fulham) left footed shot from the right side of the box misses to the left.
Foul by Philip Billing (Huddersfield Town).
Cyrus Christie (Fulham) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Penalty saved! Aboubakar Kamara (Fulham) fails to capitalise on this great opportunity, right footed shot saved in the bottom right corner.
Penalty conceded by Chris Löwe (Huddersfield Town) with a hand ball in the penalty area.
Offside, Huddersfield Town. Philip Billing tries a through ball, but Laurent Depoitre is caught offside.
Attempt missed. Ryan Sessegnon (Fulham) left footed shot from the centre of the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Cyrus Christie with a cross.
Substitution, Fulham. Ryan Sessegnon replaces Luciano Vietto.
Philip Billing (Huddersfield Town) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Calum Chambers (Fulham).
Foul by Chris Löwe (Huddersfield Town).
Cyrus Christie (Fulham) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Offside, Fulham. Tim Ream tries a through ball, but Aleksandar Mitrovic is caught offside.
Attempt saved. Aboubakar Kamara (Fulham) left footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the top left corner. Assisted by Aleksandar Mitrovic with a headed pass.
Jonathan Hogg (Huddersfield Town) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Jonathan Hogg (Huddersfield Town).
Joe Bryan (Fulham) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Elias Kachunga (Huddersfield Town) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Joe Bryan (Fulham).
Substitution, Huddersfield Town. Elias Kachunga replaces Alex Pritchard.
Substitution, Huddersfield Town. Laurent Depoitre replaces Steve Mounie.
Cyrus Christie (Fulham) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Alex Pritchard (Huddersfield Town) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Cyrus Christie (Fulham).
Foul by Zanka (Huddersfield Town).
Joe Bryan (Fulham) wins a free kick on the left wing.