Derby County threatened a late comeback but were ultimately beaten as Fulham won 2-1 at Pride Park Stadium in the Sky Bet Championship.
First-half goals from Aleksandar Mitrovic and Ryan Sessegnon gave the visitors a healthy advantage at the break.
Tom Huddlestone struck with just over 20 minutes to go as Derby fought back, but they couldn’t find the crucial equaliser.
Sessegnon – still 17-years-old – had the first opportunity after four minutes, forcing a strong save from Scott Carson at his near post.
Just moments later Derby thought they had the lead when Andre Wisdom’s low cross was turned home by Andreas Weimann, but the offside flag was raised.
The Rams have conceded scrappy goals in recent weeks and the theme continued after 10 minutes, when Stefan Johansen’s hopeful ball into the area deflected straight to the feet of Mitrovic, who gave his side the lead.
A period of pressure from Gary Rowett’s side followed, with Cameron Jerome having a shot blocked before Wisdom struck a powerful effort wide of the target.
Midway through the half though, the Cottagers doubled their lead with a superb goal from their headline name.
Johansen backheeled the ball into Sessegnon’s path after Richard Keogh failed to clear, and the teenager fired across Carson into the far corner to make it 2-0.
Chances were at a premium from that point with Fulham continuing to control the game, and Mitrovic scuffed an effort wide just after the break.
Openings were there for Derby in the second half; Jerome found space shortly after but his touch got away from him as looked to run in on goal, before Tom Lawrence blazed a half-volley over the bar.
With just over 20 minutes to go, the pressure told. The ball fell to Huddlestone on the edge of the box and, via a deflection, he halved the deficit with his second goal of the season.
The Rams were fighting hard and after Jerome stole the ball away from Marcus Bettinelli, Lawrence had a sight of goal but Fulham did well to clear their lines.
Keogh found himself in a great position in the dying moments, but when Bettinelli got his right hand up to make a sensational save, it was clear that Fulham would be taking the points back to Craven Cottage.
Derby County: Carson; Wisdom (Anya, 77’), Keogh, Davies, Forsyth; Huddlestone (Johnson, 84’), Thorne (Palmer, 56’); Weimann, Vydra, Lawrence; Jerome.
Substitutes not used: Roos, Pearce, Ledley, Nugent.
Fulham: Bettinelli; Fredericks, Ream, Odoi, Targett; Johansen (Norwood, 63’), McDonald, Cairney; Ayite (Piazon, 71’), Mitrovic, Sessegnon (Ojo, 87’).
Substitutes not used: Norman, Christie, Fonte, Kamara.
Even after the opener from Mitrovic, Derby were well in the game, but it was the second goal that took the game away from the Rams.
Sessegnon certainly lived up to the hype on the day, and he fired home after a neat bit of play from Johansen.
The hosts struggled to make in-roads for large periods but Palmer looked extremely lively after coming on.
Time after time, he drifted away from his man in midfield as Derby looked for a way back into the game.
The Rams head to the capital to face QPR at Loftus Road on Tuesday, before the East Midlands derby against Nottingham Forest at the City Ground on Sunday afternoon.