Match ends, Fulham 1, Middlesbrough 0.
Fulham 1-0 Middlesbrough: Anthony Knockaert sends Whites third with winner
Fulham moved up to third in the Championship as Anthony Knockaert's early goal gave them victory over in-form Middlesbrough at Craven Cottage.
Knockaert capped a blistering opening half an hour from the hosts with what proved to be the winner, meeting Joe Bryan's low fizzing cross to tap home at the far post.
It was the least Fulham deserved for their relentless first-half pressure, with the absence of injured top goalscorer Aleksandar Mitrovic perhaps telling as Scott Parker's side squandered at least three gilt-edged opportunities.
Ivan Cavaleiro and Josh Onomah were most guilty, both failing to hit the target when well placed, while Denis Odoi deflected Hayden Coulson's cross on to his own crossbar on a rare foray forward from Boro.
The contest was much tighter after half-time, although Odoi thought he had made the game safe when his glancing header found the corner of the net - only to be flagged offside by the barest of margins.
But Fulham were able to see the game out relatively comfortably to leapfrog Brentford and close the gap to the automatic promotion places to four points.
The result also checks Middlesbrough's recent resurgence, with defeat in west London their first in six league matches, after they had clawed themselves clear of relegation trouble.
That run included eye-catching wins at West Bromwich Albion and Preston North End, but they never came close to repeating that level of performance against Fulham.
Knockaert had already curled one effort wide even before opening the scoring in the sixth minute, while captain Tom Cairney and Bryan also had efforts saved.
Paddy McNair came closest to an equaliser in the closing stages, inadvertently guiding a free-kick from out wide towards the far corner and forcing goalkeeper Marek Rodak into a smart save.
Fulham manager Scott Parker told BBC Radio London: "I thought we were very, very good first half. And I thought second half we had some big chances but didn't capitalise.
"We weren't clinical enough in the first half. I thought everything we've worked on this week worked so well.
"But we won the game with another clean sheet, we looked pretty solid and for the majority of the game we played some good stuff."
Middlesbrough boss Jonathan Woodgate told BBC Tees: "Fulham are a good team. They were right on top. But we kept on going.
"We didn't give up. In the second half, we were miles better."
On the signing of goalkeeper Dejan Stojanovic on Thursday, Woodgate added: "His concentration level is very good. He makes important saves, he's quick off his line.
"It's Aynsley [Pears]'s shirt to lose at the minute so Dejan will come in and challenge Aynsley for the number one spot along with Tommy [Tomas Mejias]. You can't drop Aynsley. He's done really well."
- 10CairneySubstituted forJohansenat 68'minutes
- 6McDonaldBooked at 60mins
- 25OnomahSubstituted forArterat 79'minutes
- 24KnockaertSubstituted forMawsonat 90+2'minutes
- 14De Cordova-Reid
- 36De La Torre
- 17McNairBooked at 72mins
- 8ClaytonSubstituted forNmechaat 80'minutes
- 22SavilleSubstituted forFletcherat 80'minutes
- 7TavernierSubstituted forWingat 61'minutes
- David Webb
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Fulham 1, Middlesbrough 0.
Attempt missed. Harry Arter (Fulham) left footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the right.
Corner, Middlesbrough. Conceded by Tim Ream.
Corner, Middlesbrough. Conceded by Michael Hector.
Substitution, Fulham. Alfie Mawson replaces Anthony Knockaert because of an injury.
Attempt blocked. Ashley Fletcher (Middlesbrough) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Rudy Gestede.
Offside, Middlesbrough. Jonny Howson tries a through ball, but Lukas Nmecha is caught offside.
Corner, Middlesbrough. Conceded by Marek Rodák.
Foul by Anthony Knockaert (Fulham).
Patrick McNair (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Attempt blocked. Harry Arter (Fulham) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.
Substitution, Middlesbrough. Lukas Nmecha replaces Adam Clayton.
Substitution, Middlesbrough. Ashley Fletcher replaces George Saville.
Substitution, Fulham. Harry Arter replaces Josh Onomah.
Attempt saved. Denis Odoi (Fulham) header from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Anthony Knockaert with a cross.
Anthony Knockaert (Fulham) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Hayden Coulson (Middlesbrough).
Corner, Fulham. Conceded by Djed Spence.
Attempt blocked. Bobby De Cordova-Reid (Fulham) left footed shot from a difficult angle on the left is blocked. Assisted by Joe Bryan with a through ball.
Attempt blocked. Anthony Knockaert (Fulham) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Ivan Cavaleiro.
Attempt blocked. Bobby De Cordova-Reid (Fulham) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Denis Odoi.
Offside, Fulham. Ivan Cavaleiro tries a through ball, but Denis Odoi is caught offside.
Patrick McNair (Middlesbrough) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Ivan Cavaleiro (Fulham) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Patrick McNair (Middlesbrough).
Attempt missed. Anthony Knockaert (Fulham) left footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses the top left corner. Assisted by Bobby De Cordova-Reid.
Attempt saved. Joe Bryan (Fulham) right footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Tim Ream.
Substitution, Fulham. Stefan Johansen replaces Tom Cairney.
Foul by Michael Hector (Fulham).
George Saville (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Josh Onomah (Fulham).
Patrick McNair (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Corner, Middlesbrough. Conceded by Tim Ream.
Bobby De Cordova-Reid (Fulham) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Lewis Wing (Middlesbrough).
Attempt missed. Rudy Gestede (Middlesbrough) header from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Patrick Roberts with a cross following a corner.
Corner, Middlesbrough. Conceded by Kevin McDonald.
Substitution, Middlesbrough. Lewis Wing replaces Marcus Tavernier.
Kevin McDonald (Fulham) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.