Match ends, Fulham 2, Derby County 0.
Fulham earned a first win in seven Championship games to ease their relegation concerns in impressive fashion against leaders Derby County.
Nikolay Bodurov's first Whites goal broke the deadlock, the Bulgarian shooting home from a tight angle.
And it was 2-0 before half-time when a swift break instigated by the excellent Scott Parker allowed Ross McCormack to pick out Cauley Woodrow to head in.
Derby stay top thanks to Sheffield Wednesday's win over Middlesbrough.
But they will rue a missed opportunity to extend their lead to five points after a below-par performance in west London.
Fulham had not won since beating Nottingham Forest 3-2 on 21 January but did not seem like a side shorn of confidence in the first half.
|Missing Martin and replacing Rodallega|
|Fulham coped without injured striker Hugo Rodallega, who is their joint-top scorer in the league with 10 goals. But Derby struggled in attack without their injured top scorer Chris Martin, who has 16 Championship goals. The next nearest league goalscorers are Jonny Russell and Jeff Hendrick who have six apiece.|
Darren Bent had a couple of sights on goal for the visitors, heading one effort just wide and seeing another strike deflected past the post.
But Fulham were sharper in the challenge, quick to deny the league leaders time and space, and brighter with the ball.
Scott Parker led the way in midfield while McCormack provided the focal point in attack, orchestrating play and using the pace of trickery of Woodrow and Bryan Ruiz to good effect.
After a lengthy spell of pressure and a few decent chances, Fulham deservedly went ahead when Bodurov found the top corner with a fine 31st-minute strike after a Ruiz shot was blocked.
The hosts continued to have the better of things and the second goal arrived when some indecisive defending ended with Woodrow heading home McCormack's excellent cross after Parker had robbed Will Hughes of possession in midfield.
Derby, still missing injured top scorer Chris Martin, lacked a cutting edge although they did improve after half-time.
Ryan Shotton headed over from a corner when he should have done better and Bent missed an excellent headed chance from another corner.
Thomas Ince provided some hope for the Rams in the latter stages, notably with a superb long-range strike that was deflected over.
But Fulham remained threatening and looked the more likely to add to their lead.
|Fulham fight back|
|Derby had beaten Fulham 5-2 in the Capital One Cup earlier in the season and also thumped the Rams 5-1 in the league in August.|
Craig Forsyth had to clear on his own line and goalkeeper Lee Grant almost scored a calamitous own goal after a testing backpass.
McCormack also wasted a great one-on-one chance on the break and Moussa Dembele's left-footed shot hit the post in the final minute.
Fulham manager Kit Symons:
"It's always nice to get a win, especially against the team at the top of the table, and the manner in which we got it.
"It's only three points but it's a big three points given who it was against and how we did it.
"We scored two goals, we could have scored more and we kept a clean sheet, so it's very pleasing."
Derby County head coach Steve McClaren:
"It's a long season and we have been playing at a high level for the majority of it, that is why we are where we are.
"But we came up against a Fulham team who looked at their league position and knew they needed a result. What were they, fifth from bottom, with the quality they have?
"They are a Premier League side - just come down - with Premier League players. They defended for their lives and credit to them. They deserved to win and we would not have scored if played until Tuesday.
"We'll have one or two more bad days at the office, I can guarantee that, but the key thing is we just shake it off and go again. We've missed an opportunity, but there will be others and we have to make sure we take them."
- 8ParkerSubstituted forHooglandat 79'minutes
- 21ChristensenSubstituted forKavanaghat 43'minutes
- 19TunnicliffeBooked at 11mins
- 16WoodrowSubstituted forDembeleat 86'minutes
- 2ChristieSubstituted forBuxtonat 45'minutes
- 39BentSubstituted forBrysonat 64'minutes
- 16LingardSubstituted forRussellat 45'minutesBooked at 90mins
- Mike Jones
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Fulham 2, Derby County 0.
Attempt missed. Moussa Dembele (Fulham) right footed shot from very close range misses to the left. Assisted by Ryan Tunnicliffe with a cross.
Johnny Russell (Derby County) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Johnny Russell (Derby County).
Konstantinos Stafylidis (Fulham) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Moussa Dembele (Fulham) hits the left post with a left footed shot from the left side of the box. Assisted by Tim Hoogland.
Foul by Craig Forsyth (Derby County).
Ross McCormack (Fulham) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Jake Buxton (Derby County) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Moussa Dembele (Fulham).
Substitution, Fulham. Moussa Dembele replaces Cauley Woodrow.
Richard Keogh (Derby County) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Ross McCormack (Fulham).
Foul by Richard Keogh (Derby County).
Cauley Woodrow (Fulham) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Attempt missed. Johnny Russell (Derby County) left footed shot from outside the box is just a bit too high. Assisted by Ryan Shotton.
Attempt blocked. Tom Ince (Derby County) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Craig Bryson (Derby County) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Shaun Hutchinson (Fulham).