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 guilt-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 out the game relatively comfortably to leapfrog Brentford; the win leaves them four points outside an automatic promotion place.

  • Relive Fulham’s win over Middlesbrough

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.