Marco Silva’s side – hoping to bounce back to the Premier League at the first attempt this term – looked poised to run amok at The Den on Tuesday night, with teenage midfielder Fabio Carvalho teeing up Aleksandar Mitrovic before netting himself to give the visitors a 2-0 lead with only eight minutes on the clock.
However, Fulham – who thrashed Huddersfield 5-1 on Saturday after opening their latest second-tier campaign with a 1-1 draw against Middlesbrough at Craven Cottage – could not quite kill the game off despite numerous chances and were given a late scare when Benik Afobe made it only a one-goal deficit for Millwall with a header four minutes from time.
Both sides were met by raucous support from all four stands, but some spectators were still making their way to their seats when Mitrovic had Fulham up and running.
As proved the case all night, the pace and movement of the three players in behind the Serb – Neeskens Kebano, Carvalho and Ivan Cavaleiro – was too much for a beleaguered Millwall defence, with the outstanding Carvalho teeing up Mitrovic for the opener.
The 18-year-old raced down the left-hand side before smartly cutting back for his centre forward on the edge of the six-yard box. Mitrovic prodded home with a smart poke past Bartosz Bialkowski, and it was not long before he was beaten again.
Carvalho was the beneficiary this time, his perfectly timed run in behind the Millwall defence matched by Kebano’s expertly weighted through ball.
Bialkowski might have done more to close down the playmaker’s space, and could only watch as Carvalho smashed it inside his near post.
The Lions never got going. Scott Malone and Afobe both worked tirelessly to give their side a foothold, but Millwall’s final ball was poor.
Their captain Jake Cooper was lucky to escape sanction when he pulled back Kebano right on the edge of the box, the Fulham player staying on his feet no doubt helping the defender’s cause.
Fulham should have got their third moments later, Carvalho again at the heart of it.
Picking up the ball in his own half, he unselfishly released Cavaleiro cross-field, with the Portugese having plenty of time and space to pick his spot. Bialkowski again stayed rooted to his line, but Cavaleiro could only smash it into the advertising hoardings.
Mitrovic scooped over the bar and Carvalho curled just wide before the break as Fulham sought to put the game to bed, and the home supporters booed their team off at half-time.
Mitrovic and Carvalho both drew smart reaction saves from Bialkowski after the break, with the latter then seeing an effort cleared off the line.
Matt Smith’s cushioned header in the final stages was tucked home by Afobe to set up a frantic final few minutes, but Fulham held on.
Additional reporting by the Press Association.