Harry Arter’s spectacular 25-yard strike was enough for Fulham to win at Nottingham Forest and move to within four points of an automatic promotion spot.
In an otherwise scrappy game at an empty City Ground, Arter found the top corner on the turn after the ball had appeared to hit his arm following a sliding tackle in the build-up.
Forest struggled to mount a response, Alfa Semedo’s deflected effort from range and Nuno da Costa’s improvised header from the edge of the box both comfortably saved by Marek Rodak.
Both sides had late penalty shouts for handball with Fulham’s Anthony Knockaert and Tobias Figueiredo escaping punishment from referee Robert Jones.
Defeat for Sabri Lamouchi’s hosts effectively ends their top-two hopes, but they remain seven points clear of seventh-placed Derby, who have a game in hand on their East Midlands rivals.
Fulham, however, now need just four more points to confirm their Championship play-off spot and will hope pacesetters West Brom and Leeds slip up in their games on Wednesday and Thursday respectively.
Scott Parker’s side came closest to a goal before Arter’s left-footed opener, with Bobby Decordova-Reid lashing just over from outside the box after a bursting run from deep.
Fatigue setting in for Forest and Fulham?
This was the second successive round of midweek Championship fixtures, with two more to come in order for the regular-season to finish on 22 July.
Fulham scored a 95th-minute winner against Birmingham on Saturday, while Forest conceded a 97th-minute leveller at Derby, both of them energy-sapping matches.
It was perhaps no surprise then that neither side were at their free-flowing best, despite the past five meetings between the sides at the City Ground bringing 23 goals.
The Cottagers were without suspended striker Aleksandar Mitrovic and captain Tom Cairney, who missed out with a knock, while Forest’s livewire Joe Lolley came off at half-time after receiving treatment in the first half.
For the visitors, it was a third league win in a row for the first time since November, consigning their opponents to a first defeat since the restart.
Nottingham Forest boss Sabri Lamouchi:
“We have conceded two goals in the worst moments – (against) Derby in the last second and just before half time tonight.
“It was not a good game for both teams and a draw would have been fair. Fulham did not create a lot but they won the match, so well done for that.
“I don’t need to see a replay of the goal, it was in front of me. He touched the ball with his hand and with VAR it would be a foul, but it is not available and it is bad luck for us but we don’t have time to complain.
“We will analyse and rest and think about the next game.”
Fulham manager Scott Parker:
“I am very proud of my team. It’s a big result for us but there’s a bigger picture.
“We were without Tom Cairney today and players have had to step up. Harry has done that, he was fantastic today in terms of the goal and it was a fantastic strike.
“That’s two in three now for Harry. We lost (Aleksandar) Mitrovic three games ago and we have had to find another way.
“It’s at this stage where seasons peter away or we go for it. We move on to Friday night and Cardiff and the way we are at the moment anything can happen. Hopefully we can keep producing results.”