Goals from Josh Onomah and Neeskens Kebano put Fulham in the driving seat to make it into the Championship promotion play-off final after they edged past Cardiff City 2-0 in the first leg of the semi-finals on Monday night.
The Cottagers finished fourth during the regular season, missing out on automatic promotion after they drew at already-relegated Wigan Athletic 1-1 on the final day.
For the Bluebirds, they defeated another relegated side in Hull City 3-0 to finish in fifth spot, ahead of their Welsh rivals Swansea City who beat Brentford in Sunday’s first semi-final courtesy of Andre Ayew’s fine 80th-minute strike.
Things were quiet in the first half at the Cardiff City Stadium, but it did not take too long for life to come in the second half with Onomah getting the opener in the 49th minute.
The 23-year-old Anglo-Nigerian midfielder held off his marker on the edge of the box and went past two challenges inside the penalty area before cooling slotting the ball past Alex Smithies in goal.
Scott Parker’s men were in control from there on but still had one more say from Kebano who drilled in a powerful free-kick in stoppage time to ensure the west Londoners take a healthy lead into the second leg on Thursday.
Onomah played the entire 90 minutes, having 60 touches, 32 accurate passes at 86%, three key passes, two shots on target and four successful dribbles from six.
He joined from Tottenham Hotspur last summer and has now played a total of 32 times, scoring four goals and providing three assists, none of those games ending in defeat.
Kebano meanwhile had a total of four shots, his goal the only one on target, 49 touches, 25 accurate passes at 83%, two successful dribbles from two attempts and winning five of seven ground duels.
The DR Congo international was taken off for Denis Odoi shortly after his goal.
Kebano has now scored in three consecutive games having scored in none during the course of the season before then.
He first scored a brace in a 5-3 win over Sheffield Wednesday in the penultimate game of the regular season before netting the equaliser against Wigan.
The 27-year-old has been blighted by injury problems this term which has limited him to just 17 appearances in the English second tier.