Match ends, Fulham 2, Cardiff City 0.
Fulham climbed to second place in the Championship with a win over Cardiff City to intensify the pressure on Bluebirds manager Mick McCarthy.
Both sides hit the woodwork in an open and unexpectedly even first half.
Substitute Tom Cairney returned after nearly a year out injured to put Fulham ahead with a beautiful strike.
Aleksandar Mitrovic added the hosts' second as Cardiff slumped to a seventh straight league defeat for the first time since 1934.
A convincing second-half display sees Fulham leapfrog West Bromwich Albion into the automatic promotion places after the Baggies lost at Swansea City.
As for Cardiff, although this performance was a vast improvement on Sunday's dismal 3-0 derby thrashing at Swansea, a seventh successive defeat still leaves McCarthy clinging on to his job with Cardiff now down to 21st in the table.
Some fans had called for him to be sacked long before last weekend's debacle, and it is believed the club's hierarchy only stuck with the former Republic of Ireland manager because they did not want to burden a potential successor with a fixture as daunting as Fulham away.
As such, this game at Craven Cottage and Saturday's match at home to Middlesbrough are thought to be McCarthy's last chance.
His team were overwhelming underdogs against a Fulham side led in attack by the Championship's top scorer Mitrovic, who now has more goals than the entire Cardiff squad this season.
The home side were quick to seize control of possession and force Cardiff back into their own half - but it was the Bluebirds who had the game's first chance as Kieffer Moore's audacious first-time left-footed effort from a tight angle cannoned into the post.
The first half was played at a furious pace as both sides attacked with intent and, seven minutes later, the woodwork was shaking once more.
Fulham's former Cardiff midfielder Harry Wilson looked to be clean through on goal but instead of shooting, he backheeled the ball to Neeskens Kebano, whose low strike hit the post.
Further scoring opportunities followed at both ends, with Harrison Reed going close for Fulham, and Rubin Colwill and Mark McGuinness threatening for Cardiff.
The second half did not reach the frantic heights of the first and that appeared to suit Fulham, who fashioned the first opening as Mitrovic had a header saved by Alex Smithies.
The home side then made the breakthrough with a hugely popular goal at Craven Cottage as midfielder Cairney marked his first appearance since December 2020 by guiding a characteristically elegant left-footed shot into the top corner.
Six minutes later the match was over as a contest, as Fulham punished slack Cardiff defending to set up Mitrovic inside the penalty area and the Serbian finished confidently to notch his 13th goal of the season.
Cardiff offered resistance - with Aden Flint and Moore among those to go close - but despite some signs of improvement, yet another defeat did little for McCarthy's job prospects and left his side tumbling further down the table, just one place and two points above the relegation zone.
Cardiff manager Mick McCarthy:
"It leaves me on the back end of a real horrible run of results. If football is true to its usual stuff, we know what happens - but I can't do anything about that.
"We've come back in off a bad defeat against Swansea, we've certainly had a better performance and I'll be doing exactly the same for Middlesbrough until I'm told differently.
"If we perform like that against other teams then we'll win games, but I'm afraid Fulham were too good and too strong for us."
- 6ReedSubstituted forCairneyat 45'minutes
- 8WilsonSubstituted forStansfieldat 90+2'minutes
- 14De Cordova-Reid
- 9MitrovicSubstituted forMuniz Carvalhoat 89'minutes
- 19Muniz Carvalho
- 38NgBooked at 85mins
- 3BaganBooked at 78mins
- 21PackBooked at 69mins
- 26GilesSubstituted forM Harrisat 72'minutes
- 37BowenSubstituted forCollinsat 66'minutes
- 27ColwillSubstituted forEvansat 72'minutes
- 29M Harris
- Tim Robinson
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Fulham 2, Cardiff City 0.
Attempt missed. Neeskens Kebano (Fulham) left footed shot from a difficult angle on the left misses to the left. Assisted by Jay Stansfield with a cross.
Attempt saved. Denis Odoi (Fulham) right footed shot from very close range is saved in the centre of the goal.
Attempt blocked. Jay Stansfield (Fulham) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Bobby De Cordova-Reid.
Corner, Fulham. Conceded by Perry Ng.
Substitution, Fulham. Jay Stansfield replaces Harry Wilson.
Rodrigo Muniz (Fulham) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Aden Flint (Cardiff City).
Substitution, Fulham. Rodrigo Muniz replaces Aleksandar Mitrovic.
Foul by Harry Wilson (Fulham).
Kieron Evans (Cardiff City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Corner, Cardiff City. Conceded by Marek Rodák.
Attempt saved. Kieffer Moore (Cardiff City) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal.
Foul by Denis Odoi (Fulham).
Kieffer Moore (Cardiff City) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Corner, Cardiff City. Conceded by Tosin Adarabioyo.
Attempt missed. Harry Wilson (Fulham) left footed shot from the centre of the box is too high. Assisted by Aleksandar Mitrovic.
Perry Ng (Cardiff City) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Tom Cairney (Fulham) wins a free kick in the defensive half.