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Fulham edge out Cardiff to book place in Championship play-off final

Fulham set for Wembley date with Brentford despite 2-1 defeat.

Neeskens Kebano, centre, made the difference for Fulham.
Neeskens Kebano, centre, made the difference for Fulham.

Fulham 1-2 Cardiff City

(Fulham win 3-2 on aggregate)

NEESKENS KEBANO’S FIFTH goal in four matches booked Fulham a London derby Championship play-off final with Brentford.

Kebano’s neat finish against Cardiff City sent Fulham into the final 3-2 on aggregate, even though Scott Parker’s men lost their semi-final second leg 2-1.

Curtis Nelson and Lee Tomlin struck to drag the Bluebirds back into the fight for a place at Wembley, after Fulham had prevailed 2-0 in south Wales on Monday.

But the in-form Kebano’s latest eye-catching goal proved the difference over the two-leg tie, sending Fulham to Wembley.

Now all that stands between them and a Premier League return is Thomas Frank’s free-flowing Bees. The Whites have lost both league meetings with Brentford this term.

Any designs Fulham had on a comfortable night evaporated when Cardiff took the early lead.

A back-pedalling Marek Rodak had to tip the ball over his bar after Will Vaulks’ long throw bounced high off the firm surface.

And from Joe Ralls’ corner Nelson thumped home a fine header.

Just 24 seconds after the restart however, Fulham were level on the night and back in control of the tie.

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Anthony Knockaert laid off to Bobby Decordova-Reid on the right flank, and his smart cross was met with an even more astute finish from the red-hot Kebano.

The Congo winger tiptoed round Cardiff’s static defenders to flick home in style, to calm the early storm.

Neil Harris’ visitors opened the second half as they had the first, finding the net with an early attack.

Half-time replacement Tomlin hooked in at the far post after Rodak’s weak punch.

The opportunistic finish had the Bluebirds leading 2-1 on the night – but still trailing Fulham 3-2 on aggregate.

But Parker’s side continued to tighten up as the second half unfolded, and Cardiff kept pressing.

Robert Glatzel blazed over late on as the luckless Cardiff pressed, but this was Fulham’s night.

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