Chelsea 1-0 Fulham. Cole Palmer’s first-half penalty gave Chelsea a narrow win over West London rivals Fulham at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League.
Palmer’s reverse pass set up Raheem Sterling, who was caught by Issa Diop inside the penalty area.
Palmer dispatched the spot-kick, sending Fulham keeper Bernd Leno the wrong way to net his ninth goal since joining the Blues in August.
Conor Gallagher almost added a late second when his sweetly struck effort using the outside of his boot cannoned off the far post.
Chelsea kept Fulham at arm’s length and held on for their third consecutive victory to jump to eighth in the table.
The visitors stay in 13th and have lost four of their past five matches.
It was not a classic but Chelsea did enough to come away with three points.
Chelsea were wasteful in their 1-0 loss to Middlesbrough in the Carabao Cup semi-final first leg on Tuesday, and for much of the first half against Fulham they once again struggled in front of goal.
Gallagher fired a shot over the bar after 16 minutes and Armando Broja headed Enzo Fernandez’s cross wide of the near post moments later.
It took the combined coolness of Sterling, who forced Diop into a tackle he did not need to make, and Palmer to break the deadlock.
After the restart Chelsea looked far more assured. Fernandez crossed for Sterling in the 50th minute, with the England forward flicking his header against a post, although any finish would have been ruled out for offside.
Victory meant Mauricio Pochettino’s side won a fourth home league match on the bounce for the first time since July 2020.
After winning only 12 of their 43 league games in 2023 – the fewest they had recorded in a calendar year since 1995 – Chelsea’s 2024 league campaign has got off to the perfect start.
They play Middlesbrough in the semi-final second leg on 23 January.
Fulham’s poor away run continued. The Cottagers have lost their past five league games on the road and were beaten 2-1 at Liverpool in the EFL Cup on Wednesday.
Marco Silva’s side had the best chance of the opening exchanges when Antonee Robinson’s low cross found Harry Wilson at the back post, but the winger’s effort from a tight angle was kept out by the feet of Chelsea keeper Djordje Petrovic.
In the 74th minute Petrovic superbly denied Fulham’s Raul Jimenez with a low diving save to his right after the forward met Andreas Pereira’s cutback.
The match’s outcome may have been very different if referee Anthony Taylor had chosen to send off Chelsea defender Malo Gusto with the game goalless in the 39th minute.
The France right-back caught Willian above his ankle, but the video assistant referee (VAR) was happy to uphold Taylor’s decision to award Gusto a yellow card.
Fulham play Liverpool in the semi-final second leg on 24 January.
source – BBC