For photos scroll to “Photostream” above left. For statistics click on the stats tab. Manager reaction and press conferences below.
Chelsea moved to the top of the Barclays Premier League table with a 2-0 win over Fulham at Stamford Bridge.
Jose Mourinho's men struggled to create their fluid best during the Stamford Bridge encounter, which was decided by second-half goals from Oscar and John Obi Mikel, but did enough to register their third top-flight win of the season.
Chelsea entered the match without a victory in their last four matches in all competitions, and could have trailed in the early stages when Fulham striker Darren Bent was presented with a terrific chance. Bent missed his chance, and after a scrappy first half, Chelsea took the lead through Oscar's close-range finish in the 52nd minute. Mikel capped off the victory with his first Barclays Premier League goal, on his 185th appearance, when he hooked in following a Chelsea corner.
Mourinho reacted to his side's 2-1 home defeat to Basel in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday by making four changes, as Juan Mata and David Luiz were left out of the squad while Frank Lampard dropped to the bench. Captain John Terry was recalled by Mourinho, as were Mikel, Ramires, and Andre Schurrle. Fulham also made three changes, with Damien Duff, one of three-ex Chelsea players in their starting XI, and Darren Bent the main inclusions, replacing the injured Bryan Ruiz (ankle) and Dimitar Berbatov (hamstring) respectively.
Fulham fashioned the first chance of the match when Steve Sidwell, another former Chelsea player, headed over, and although Samuel Eto'o flicked wide at the other end, the visitors could have taken the lead in the 13th minute. A superb pass from Pajtim Kasami set Bent free, but the Aston Villa loanee, who entered the match with three goals in his last three matches against Chelsea, failed to make the most of the one-on-one opportunity, shooting straight at goalkeeper Petr Cech.
Chelsea claimed a penalty shortly after, when Eden Hazard fell under pressure from Sascha Riether, and although nothing was given, Mourinho's men started to grow into the game.
Their abundance of possession, and several set-pieces, failed to materialise into anything substantial though, with further half-chances for Eto'o and a hopeful Hazard volley the best they could muster before Branislav Ivanovic saw a good drive turned wide by Fulham goalkeeper David Stockdale on the stroke of half-time.
Chelsea got their goal seven minutes after play resumed, however, as Oscar found himself in the right place at the right time. Schurrle was the instigator, skipping past Reither before shooting from the left with an effort that was spilled by Stockdale. Fulham failed to clear their lines properly and Oscar was on hand to tap in with his left foot, much to the delight of the home supporters.
Sidwell had a good chance to level proceedings less than two minutes later, but could not direct his header on target, while Hazard went close at the other end. Stockdale then made a terrific save to deny a thumping Fernando Torres header, but from the resultant corner Chelsea scored again, as Mikel pounced on Terry's header to thrash home a landmark goal with just six minutes to play.
Despite Kieran Richardson forcing Cech into a smart save late on, Chelsea held on for an important three points, as they extended their unbeaten record against Fulham in the Barclays Premier League to 15 matches.
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho: "Against Everton we went home very, very sad and today we go home very, very happy. The result was better than the result against Everton. I still think that we played much better against Everton than we did today but points are also important.
"After a bad start, a start that everybody kept telling me is the worst start for about a decade [for Chelsea] … today I looked at the table, nobody is in front of us. The beauty of the Premier League is that everybody loses matches and everybody drops points. The top six teams have already had a defeat, so no dramas. I am aware we are not playing very well but we will work, we are top professionals and everybody is working hard."
"As a No 10 he [Oscar] gives us creativity and he gives us ability to press up and defend. Juan [Mata] has to learn to play the way I want to play. He has to be more consistent, he has to be more participative when the team lose possession. It is not his fault, just the way he has played in recent years."
Fulham manager Martin Jol: "I'm not happy after a defeat. Especially [in] the first 15 minutes, they were really worried. They couldn't find a space, they couldn't find a solution. That is probably the moment you have to punish them and we couldn't do that.
"[But] for me, it is not enough. If you are playing the way we played, you have to create more, especially on the right and the left flank. They do the same, with [full-backs Branislav] Ivanovic and Ashley Cole. We needed to, and we will in the future. We needed a little more.
"Ashley Cole had a problem, Ivanovic had a little problem against [Alexander] Kacaniklic but we couldn't continue to do that. [The] first half was okay, but if you play away matches, you have to do a little bit more to get results.
"At half-time we were really pleased and we tried to do the same, but in the second half they stepped up a gear, they were more aggressive than us. Today I had to integrate Fernando [Amorebieta] at the back so that was a little risk. But he did ever so well."
|28 Sep 2013||v Spurs (A)|
|06 Oct 2013||v Norwich (A)|
|19 Oct 2013||v Cardiff (H)|
|27 Oct 2013||v Man City (H)|
|02 Nov 2013||v Newcastle (A)|
|09 Nov 2013||v West Brom (H)|