Hatters beaten by Mitrovic's treble

Dan Potts celebrates his goal with Izzy Brown
Dan Potts celebrates his goal with Izzy Brown

Championship: Fulham 3 Luton Town 2

Luton were handed a lesson in finishing by Fulham striker Aleksander Mitrovic who notched a masterly hat-trick to just about defeat the Hatters this evening.

The Serbian talisman showed exactly why the Cottagers forked out £22m for him back in July 2018, as although he rarely left his centre forward's position, he didn't need to, hardly breaking sweat to notch a match-defining treble.

Town had their moments on the night, and had Kazenga LuaLua's goal to make it 3-2 not come in stoppage time, they might have had a chance to snatch a point, but were ultimately done by the forward's class, as will no doubt a great many teams at this level over the season.

The Hatters were unchanged for the clash, Izzy Brown and James Bree both recovering for their knocks picked up during Saturday's 3-0 win over Bristol City.

Fulham might have been ahead inside two minutes, Anthony Knockaert's header glanced wide by Denis Odoi, while Ivan Cavaleiro snatched at his shot from outside the box.

After being devoid of possession early on, the Hatters gathered their thoughts and almost were in front when Collins won it back upfield and was found by a delicious outside of the boot through ball by Brown.

He got there ahead of keeper Marek Rodak, but missed the top corner by a matter of inches.

Just as Town looked to be getting a foothold in the contest, they were behind though with a goal of their own making on 16 minutes, Matty Pearson's ill-judged pass inside picked up by Cavaleiro.

He then rolled it into Mitrovic, who made space inside the area, fending off Sonny Bradley's attentions and unleashed a rocket past James Shea that was in the moment he pulled the trigger.

Fulham looked for a second, Shea having to hurridly palm away as Tom Cairney broke into the box, before deflecting Knockaert's effort with his legs and then diving full length to parry from the classy Mitrovic, who sent an ambitious bicycle kick over the top.

Knockaert curled off target from a decent position, as Luton's best chances came when Brown was in possession and driving into space, as he outmuscled Odoi to feed Collins, who sliced wide on his left foot.

On-loan Brighton attacker Knockaert should have doubled Fulham's lead on 36 minutes, found in space by Cavaleiro but fired millimetres over on his favoured left foot.

Town then won back possession after another poor Cottagers' pass out of defence, which was a theme all evening, Harry Cornick disappointingly dragging his effort, Collins flagged for handball as he controlled the rebound.

Cavaleiro hurtled off his wing and let fly, only narrowly missing the far corner, while a poor James Bree header was eventually seized upon by Joe Bryan whose low cross was just out of the reach of Mitrovic.

After the break, the Hatters could have been on level terms immediately, Brown finding Cornick, who screwed his attempt the wrong side of the post, while Brown went for goal himself, a home defender flicking behind.

But just as they had in the first period, Town then conceded as they looked to be in with a chance of restoring parity, Dan Potts losing Bobby Decordova-Reid and he picked out the unmarked Mitrovic to tap home his 10th of the season on 53 minutes.

Luton were swiftly on the front foot once more though, Mpanzu doing excellently on the right to send over two crosses, one that Cornick couldn't generate enough power from and another that was blocked behind.

The Hattters did give themselves a lifeline on the hour mark as Brown's free kick was met by Potts, who glanced beyond Rodak for his first goal in over a year.

Town's hopes only lasted seven minutes, as the Cottagers played a short free kick to Joe Bryan and his cross was headed home by that man Mitrociv for an imperious hat-trick.

Collins wasn't too far away from 25 yards as he looked to pull yet another back, as Town's top scorer, along with Cornick made way for Callum McManaman and LuaLua.

Late on, Cavaleiro had a blast parried behind by, while Town's two replacements went for goal, before another substitute, Luke Bolton, raced down the wing and crossed low for LuaLau to score at the far post.

It was just too little, too late for Town as Fulham saw out the final 90 seconds without any further alarm.

Cottagers: Marek Rodak, Joe Bryan, Tim Ream, Alfie Mawson, Denis Odoi, Tom Cairney, Harrison Reed (Kevin McDonald 85), Bobby Decordova-Reid (Stefan Johansen 80), Ivan Cavaleiro, Alexsander Mitrovic, Anthony Knockaert (Josh Onoma 70).

Subs not used: Marcus Bettinelli, Maxime Le Marchand, Steven Sessegnon, Aboubakar Kamara.

Hatters: James Shea, James Bree (Luke Bolton 70), Dan Potts, Sonny Bradley (C), Matty Pearson, Martin Cranie, Ryan Tunnicliffe, Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu, Harry Cornick (Kazenga LuaLua 78), Izzy Brown, James Collins (Callum McManaman 78).

Subs not used: Lloyd Jones, Jacob Butterfield, Andrew Shinnie, Simon Sluga.

Booked: Cairney 73.

Referee: John Brooks.

Attendance: 18,082.