Aleksandar Mitrovic headed his 21st league goal of the season as Fulham made it seven Championship wins in a row by sweeping aside struggling Barnsley to go top of the table.
Mitrovic – who has also scored three goals for Serbia in World Cup qualifiers since September – beat Brad Collins from six yards and Fabio Carvalho cut inside to double the lead before half-time.
The visitors, whose new head coach Poya Asbaghi takes up the role on Monday, lacked a comparable cutting edge despite the return of Carlton Morris from injury.
And Neeskens Kebano and Harry Wilson made the points safe in the second half either side of a consolation goal from Barnsley sub Victor Adeboyejo after Cauley Woodrow’s header rebounded to him off the post.
The visitors have now lost nine games out of the last 10 and would be bottom were it not for the 21 points deducted from Derby County for going into administration and accounting rule breaches.
Joseph Laumann, put in charge by the Tykes following the sacking of Markus Schopp, made six changes for his third and final game as interim boss, with Morris fit to play for the first time since August.
They made an encouraging start as Marek Rodak tipped over a 20-yard effort by Romel Palmer, but Fulham almost went ahead when Michael Hector’s shot from the edge of the box thumped the post.
The Londoners did not have to wait long for the breakthrough as Mitrovic scored following Kenny Tete’s cross, and he also provided the assist before Carvalho curled home his fourth of the season.
Wilson had a couple of chances to add another before the break and Tom Cairney saw an effort deflected on to the bar following the restart before Mitrovic brought a smart save from Collins with another header from the resulting corner.
Kebano finally slid in the third from Wilson’s cross and the provider then turned scorer by chesting down Jean-Michael Seri’s ball and firing past Collins just three minutes after Adeboyejo had pulled one back.
It should have been five as Mitrovic burst forward from halfway before squaring the ball to Carvalho, and although he shot wide of an open goal, Barnsley are four points from safety and with the joint lowest goals scored tally in the division, leaving Asbaghi under no illusions as to the scale of the task facing him.
Fulham head coach Marco Silva told BBC London 94.9:
“Apart from the first 10 minutes, we started to play our game, we started to create problems for them, to express ourselves on the pitch.
“There were some very good moments of football. There are things we practise on a daily basis and when I see the players can do it on the pitch on matchday, it’s fantastic for us.
“The only thing that was not good was the way we conceded the goal but it’s something we keep improving, not just on the pitch but mentally as well.
“Our players know it’s really important to have clean sheets, it could have been a perfect afternoon and it wasn’t because of that.”
Barnsley interim boss Joseph Laumann told BBC Radio Sheffield:
“They are maybe the best footballing side in the league.
“I think we were good until the first goal, we looked quite stable. The main thing we needed was to hurt them more when we had the ball.
“I will meet him [Poya Asbaghi] tomorrow to see how he felt. Yesterday, we spoke a bit and I told him about the game plan and what we would try to do against Fulham.
“I hope he is like a fresh, new start for everybody. We need to start winning games.”
- 33RobinsonSubstituted forBryanat 85′minutes
- 6ReedSubstituted forSeriat 80′minutes
- 10CairneySubstituted forOnomahat 80′minutes
- 14De Cordova-Reid
- 19Muniz Carvalho
- 28FrieserSubstituted forLeya Isekaat 54′minutes
- 21PalmerSubstituted forMoonat 75′minutes
- 14MorrisSubstituted forAdeboyejoat 75′minutes
- 11Leya Iseka
Match ends, Fulham 4, Barnsley 1.
Second Half ends, Fulham 4, Barnsley 1.
Offside, Fulham. Jean Michael Seri tries a through ball, but Aleksandar Mitrovic is caught offside.
Offside, Fulham. Kenny Tete tries a through ball, but Harry Wilson is caught offside.
Attempt missed. Kenny Tete (Fulham) right footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Harry Wilson following a corner.
Corner, Fulham. Conceded by Victor Adeboyejo.
Attempt missed. Cauley Woodrow (Barnsley) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the right. Assisted by Jasper Moon.
Attempt missed. Fabio Carvalho (Fulham) right footed shot from the left side of the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Aleksandar Mitrovic following a fast break.
Corner, Barnsley. Conceded by Michael Hector.
Corner, Barnsley. Conceded by Joe Bryan.
Attempt blocked. Cauley Woodrow (Barnsley) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Mads Andersen with a headed pass.
Corner, Barnsley. Conceded by Michael Hector.
Attempt blocked. Callum Styles (Barnsley) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Cauley Woodrow.
Foul by Michael Hector (Fulham).
Cauley Woodrow (Barnsley) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Aleksandar Mitrovic (Fulham).
Jordan Williams (Barnsley) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Substitution, Fulham. Joe Bryan replaces Antonee Robinson.
Attempt missed. Jean Michael Seri (Fulham) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left. Assisted by Fabio Carvalho.
Goal! Fulham 4, Barnsley 1. Harry Wilson (Fulham) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Jean Michael Seri with a through ball.