Fulham 0 Chelsea 3
Chelsea kept their top-four ambitions on track win with a 3-0 victory at Craven Cottage thanks to a John Terry brace and a 30 yard screamer from David Luiz. It was also a return to winning ways after defeat at Wembley on Sunday and perfect preparation for a tricky trip to Anfield at the weekend. There were four changes to the side which lost to Man City in the FA Cup, with Frank Lampard returning to make his 600th appearance, becoming only the third player in the club’s history to do so. John Terry also returned, in for Cesar Azpilicueta, who was replaced at right-back by Branislav Ivanovic. Victor Moses and Fernando Torres were the other two changes, replacing Oscar and Demba Ba respectively. The hosts started brightly and Chelsea could have been a spot of bother early on when Ruiz got the wrong side of Luiz to meet a Riether cross inside the area. Somehow though he managed to send his shot over the bar and Chelsea escaped, although they still found it tough going in the opening minutes, with poor passing let them down again as it had against City. In spite of that they still managed to threaten the Fulham goal early on, with Torres forcing a save from Schwarzer after getting his head to a cross from Ivanovic. Chelsea began to grow into the game after a lethargic opening ten minutes but Fulham were then given two decent opportunities to take the lead. First, in the 18th minute, Ivanovic was booked for a foul on Petric and the Cottagers had a free-kick in a dangerous position. Fortunately, Karagonuis’s effort was easily held by Petr Cech but moments later he had another chance when he got past Ivanovic and fired for goal, beating the Chelsea keeper but not the woodwork as the ball hit the top of the crossbar. Despite having improved their performance from the opening ten minutes Chelsea were still living dangerously at times and just before the half-hour mark the hosts went close again through Riise. Chelsea then went right up the other end and Moses fired a ball across the face of goal but there was no one there to meet it when the simplest of touches could have taken it into the back of the net. At this stage Fulham were slightly on top and looking the more likely to score but then a moment of magic gave Chelsea the lead. Luiz picked up the ball in midfield and advanced a few yards towards goal before letting rip from 30 yards out. The thunderbolt cut across goal and buried itself in the top corner of the net as Scwharzer looked on helplessly and Chelsea took the lead. The goal came slightly against the run of play and seemed to knock Fulham out of kilter for a bit, but they were soon back and looking dangerous, with Cech forced into a wonderful save to stop Emanuelson’s effort from finding the bottom corner. On the whole now, however, Chelsea were looking a lot more dangerous as Torres fired high and wide before Lampard tried his luck from range with a free-kick which Scwarzer managed to stop. Just before half time though a second goal did arrive and again it was a centre-half who found the net. Juan Mata found Terry at the far post with a pinpoint cross and the Chelsea Captain headed home to make it 2-0 at half time, although there was a penalty scare to survive just before the interval. Thankfully for the Blues referee Dean was unmoved. Fulham came out for the second half looking like a side who knew one goal could really put them back in the game. Chelsea stood firm and although the hosts tried to play some good football and forced a few early corners they got nowhere and the European Champions could have got a third goal just before the hour but Mata just wasn’t quite able to get anything on a Torres cross after a well-worked move. With just over twenty minutes left and Chelsea looking increasingly comfortable, Rafa Benitez made his first change, with Oscar coming on to replace Eden Hazard. Just moments later came a miss from Fulham that denied them the opportunity to put Chelsea under some real pressure in the final quarter of the match. Senderos met a corner with a goal-bound header which was on its way in but Petric got to the ball first and somehow managed to fire it over the bar. It was an unbelievable miss and it would prove costly for J*l’s team, who found themselves with an impossible mountain to climb just moments later. A Chelsea break saw Moses test Schwarzer with a low effort and although the keeper turned the ball around the post he could do nothing about the resultant corner. Mata’s delivery was met by Torres, who headed the ball on for Terry to find the net and grab his second goal of the night. With the win secure Benitez chose to bring off Ramires and Mata ahead of Sunday’s match, replacing them with John Mikel Obi and Demba Ba. The substitutes had little to do as Chelsea saw out the win and move back up to third in the table with another crucial win.
Chelsea; Cech, Ivanovic, David Luiz, Terry, Bertrand, Ramires (Mikel 75), Lampard, Hazard (Oscar 68), Mata (Ba 80), Moses, Torres
Chelsea Scorer; Luiz 30, Terry 42, 71
Unused subs; Turnbull, Azpilicueta, Ake, Benayoun
Referee; M Dean