The Blues took the lead early on when Pedro slotted home from N’Golo Kante’s pass and they could have had more in the first half had Sergio Rico not twice denied Olivier Giroud.
Chelsea held off a spirited Fulham side to claim a valuable victory and move up to third in the Premier League.
Fulham threatened to find an equaliser in the second half as Chelsea struggled for fluency, but substitute Ruben Loftus-Cheek made the win safe when he fired past Rico after an intricate passing move with Eden Hazard and Pedro.
Defeat for Fulham means they stay bottom of the table, having claimed only one point from a possible 24 away from home this season.
Blues’ unbeaten home run continues
Chelsea bounced back from defeat by Tottenham with an emphatic 4-0 Europa League win over PAOK Salonika on Thursday, and they followed that up with another, albeit more laboured, victory against Fulham.
It took Pedro just four minutes to break the deadlock as he tucked away Chelsea’s 1,000th Premier League goal at Stamford Bridge and that set the tone for the first half. The hosts dominated possession in the first half and they could have easily had a second on 24 minutes when Giroud, who netted a double in midweek, saw his low effort blocked by Rico.
And the Spain goalkeeper was there to foil the Frenchman again on the brink of half-time, as he saved Giroud’s sliding effort from Cesar Azpilicueta‘s cross. However, Sarri’s team were unable to play with the same fluidity in the second period and they did not seriously test Rico again until Marcos Alonso’s whipped free-kick was saved on the hour mark.
Second-half substitute Alvaro Morata then spurned a golden opportunity after 73 minutes when he fired over with the goal gaping after Rico had parried Hazard’s low strike. But fellow replacement Loftus-Cheek was on hand to net Chelsea’s second of the game, and save Morata’s blushes, when he scored his fifth in his past six games with eight minutes remaining.
The Blues’ victory means they are now unbeaten at Stamford Bridge in 14 matches in all competitions, a run which stretches back to April.
Spirited Fulham fall short
Ahead of Sunday’s game, the Cottagers had claimed just one point from a possible 21 in away games this season, and disappointingly for new boss Ranieri, they were unable to buck the trend at Stamford Bridge.
There were promising moments for the Cottagers early on, even after Chelsea’s first goal, but neither Cyrus Christie nor Calum Chambers could seriously test Kepa Arrizabalaga, shooting straight at the Spaniard.
But it was only after Ranieri introduced Aboubakar Kamara and Floyd Ayite at half-time that the visitors began to pose a serious threat. Kamara’s low cross was nearly deflected into the Chelsea net by Antonio Rudiger and Kepa had to make a fine save to keep out Chambers’ header from the resulting corner.
And the Arsenal loanee drew another good save from Kepa shortly after, as the Spaniard dived to his right to beat away Chambers’ curling effort. However, despite the Cottagers’ best efforts, they were unable to put their hosts under a sustained period of pressure, and Chelsea held on to claim consecutive home clean sheets for the first time this season.
Meanwhile, Fulham are the only side in England’s top four tiers who are yet to keep a clean sheet in 2018-19.
Man of the match – Calum Chambers
Chelsea leave it late (again) – the stats
- Chelsea have scored 12 goals (out of their 30) in the final 15 minutes of games in the Premier League this season, more than any other side.
- Chelsea haven’t lost any of their last 11 home games in the Premier League (W6 D5) – their longest unbeaten run at Stamford Bridge in the competition since August 2015 (a run of 21 games).
- Fulham have conceded 35 goals in the Premier League this season – their joint-most after 14 games of a top-flight league campaign (35 in 1959-60).
- Chelsea are unbeaten in their previous 17 Premier League games against Fulham (W10 D7), winning each of the last four.
- This was the 14th time that a former Chelsea manager has returned to Stamford Bridge in a Premier League game and failed to win (D5 L9), with this being Fulham manager Claudio Ranieri’s third such attempt (D1 L2).
- Pedro’s opener for Chelsea was their 1000th home goal in the Premier League, becoming just the third club to reach this landmark in the competition after Manchester United and Arsenal.
- Chelsea midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek has scored five goals in his last six appearances in all competitions for Chelsea, including in back-to-back Premier League games for the first time.
- N’Golo Kante has as many Premier League assists this season (2) as he managed in his previous two league campaigns for Chelsea combined.
Chelsea travel to Molineux to face Wolves on Wednesday, 5 December (19:45 GMT), and Fulham host Leicester the same day (19:45).
Source: BBC News