Fulham had a very enjoyable Boxing Day runout as they easily swatted aside nine-man Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.
It looked like we would be in store for a tight and edgy London derby, and it certainly started out that way.
Fulham grabbed the lead just past the half-hour, with Bobby Decordova-Reid heading home after good work by Aleksandar Mitrovic. Palace might have thought that things could only get better from there, but they almost immediately got worse.
Just three minutes after falling behind, Tyrick Mitchell was shown a straight red card for a poor challenge, and it was tough to see them getting anything out of it from there.
Palace, to their credit, did start the second half with some intent. The Eagles looked to keep things tight and hope one of their talented forward players could produce some magic. There were positive moments, but the contest was all but over before the hour.
James Tomkins, who was booked early, left a late elbow in on Mitrovic and was given a second yellow card to reduce Palace to nine men.
From there, the only real question was how many goals Fulham would score, and they settled on three, with Tim Ream netting the second before Mitrovic gave the scoreline some added gloss.
Not quite the tight London derby we were expecting, but Fulham won’t mind that at all.
Crystal Palace player ratings (4-2-3-1)
GK: Vicente Gualta – 7/10 – Would have been a much heavier defeat for Palace without him.
RB: Nathaniel Clyne – 6/10 – Did about all that could be expected to hold back the tide.
CB: Joachim Anderson – 6/10 – Never hid but was always up against it.
CB: James Tomkins – 4/10 – Such a stupid red card for such an experienced player.
LB: Tyrick Mitchell – 3/10 – At least has inexperience as an excuse, but still let his side down.
CM: Cheick Doucoure – 6/10 – Never gave up but unable to influence things either.
CM: Jeffrey Schlupp – 5/10 – Pretty much entirely ineffectual.
RF: Jordan Ayew – 7/10 – The pick of the Palace players.
AM: Michael Olise – 6/10 – Did okay in the circumstances.
LF: Eberechi Eze – 6/10 – Struggled to impact the game.
CF: Wilfried Zaha – 6/10 – Starved of service and not able to produce any magic.
Chris Richards (60’ for Eze)
Joel Ward (67’ for Clyne)
Jairo Riedewald (83’ for Schlupp)
Luka Milivojevic (84’ for Doucoure)
Will Hughes (84’ for Olise)
Patrick Viera – 5/10 – Tough for him to do much when his players are being this silly.
Fulham player ratings (4-2-3-1)
GK: Bernd Leno – 6/10 – Had very little to do in reality.
RB: Kenny Tete – 7/10 – Saw plenty of the ball and used it well.
CB: Issa Diop – 8/10 – Largely dominant, even if the circumstances were kind on defenders.
CB: Tim Ream – 8/10 – Scored a goal and kept a clean sheet. Can’t ask much more than that from a centre back.
LB: Antonee Robinson - 7/10 – Similar kind of performance as fellow-full-back Tete.
CM: Joao Palhinha – 7/10 – Played his part without needing to be anything special.
CM: Harrison Reed – 7/10 – Kept things ticking over in the middle.
RF: Bobby Decordova-Reid – 8/10 – Real thorn in the Palace side.
AM: Andreas Pereira – 8/10 – Thriving with regular football.
LF: Willian – 7/10 – Least effective of Fulham’s front-line but involved in the third goal.
CF: Aleksandar Mitrovic – 9/10 – Scored a goal, assisted another, just a glorious nuisance.
Tom Cairney (75’ for Palhinha)
Harry Wilson (80’ for Decordova-Reid)
Daniel James (82’ for Willian)
Luke Harris (85’ for Pereira)
Vinicius (85’ for Mitrovic)
Marco Silva – 7/10 – Palace made it easy for him, but his side went for the throat with real relish.