Chelsea 1 – 0 Fulham

Chelsea 1 – 0 Fulham

Cole Palmer’s penalty secured a 1-0 victory for Chelsea against local rivals Fulham as Mauricio Pochettino’s side won a third consecutive Premier League game for the first time all season.

Palmer dispatched his fifth spot kick of the campaign with trademark composure after Issa Diop was adjudged to have brought down Raheem Sterling on the stroke of half-time at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea had the better of the game after the 21-year-old’s opener but produced more missed chances following their Carabao Cup semi-final first-leg defeat to Middlesbrough on Tuesday, ensuring the game hung in the balance right until the end.

The Blues held on, though, thanks in part to some smart saves by goalkeeper Djordje Petrovic, the narrow victory providing a much-needed boost for the home fans and moving Pochettino’s side up to eighth in the Premier League table while Fulham remain 13th.

Player ratings

Chelsea: Petrovic (8), Gusto (6), Disasi (7), Silva (7), Colwill (7), Caicedo (7), Fernandez (7), Gallagher (7), Sterling (7), Palmer (8), Broja (6).

Subs: Madueke (7), Chilwell (6), Chukwuemeka (n/a), Gilchrist (n/a).

Fulham: Leno (7), Tete (6), Tosin (7), Diop (6), Robinson (7), Palhinha (7), Cairney (7), Willian (6), Wilson (6), Pereira (6), Jimenez (6).

Subs: Castagne (6), De Cordova-Reid (6), Muniz (6), Lukic (6).

Player of the match: Cole Palmer

How Chelsea edged to victory

Pochettino vowed to bring smiles back to Chelsea faces in his matchday programme notes following the midweek loss at Middlesbrough but they were slow to get going before the opener.

Team news

  • Armando Broja led the line for Chelsea in place of the absent Nicolas Jackson while Ben Chilwell was named on the bench having recovered from injury.
  • Tom Cairney returned to Fulham’s midfield as captain in place of Harrison Reed, while Kenny Tete and Harry Wilson also started.

Armando Broja headed an Enzo Fernandez cross narrowly wide but otherwise struggled to make an impact up front, with Fulham repelling Chelsea’s attacks and threatening at the other end too.

The visitors went close to breaking the deadlock just before the half-hour mark when Harry Wilson, getting some joy up against makeshift Chelsea left-back Levi Colwill, forced a sharp save from Petrovic from Antonee Robinson’s teasing cross.

Chelsea’s Enzo Fernandez holds off Fulham’s Joao Palhinha

Chelsea then had a close shave when right-back Malo Gusto caught former Blue Willian on the ankle with his studs. The travelling fans called for a red card but referee Anthony Taylor opted for yellow.

The hosts continued to push and got their reward when Palmer’s brilliant reverse pass, the only standout moment of quality in the first half, released Sterling, who went to ground for Chelsea’s penalty after slight contact from Issa Diop.

Palmer stepped up and sent Bernd Leno the wrong way to take his Premier League goal tally to nine this season and make it five successful penalties out of five following his move from Manchester City.

Cole Palmer celebrates his goal for Chelsea
Cole Palmer scored his ninth Premier League goal of the season

Chelsea started the second period strongly, with the excellent Palmer curling a shot narrowly wide, Sterling striking the outside of the post with a header and Broja failing to connect properly with a low Gusto cross as the hosts piled on the pressure.

Fulham provided a reminder of their attacking threat when Raul Jimenez forced an athletic, one-handed save from Petrovic and, up at the other end, Chelsea’s attacks continued to come to nothing.

Conor Gallagher fired a shot against the upright and substitute Noni Madueke forced a save from Bernd Leno in stoppage time, but the closing stages were extremely nervy for the hosts as they struggled to manage the game and invited Fulham pressure.

Chelsea's Cole Palmer controls the ball under pressure from Fulham's Antonee Robinson (AP)
Chelsea’s Cole Palmer controls the ball under pressure from Antonee Robinson

The visitors won a succession of free-kicks in dangerous areas, with Chelsea repeatedly struggling to clear their lines, but Marco Silva’s side, also beaten in the first leg of their Carabao Cup final against Liverpool in midweek, couldn’t carve out clear chances.

Chelsea were therefore able to celebrate an important victory at the final whistle, the positive mood enhanced by the return of Ben Chilwell as a substitute following four months out.

What’s next?

Tuesday 23rd January 7:00pm

Kick off 8:00pm

Chelsea’s contest an EFL Cup semi-final second leg against Middlesbrough next, which takes place on January 23, live on Sky Sports Football, kick-off 8pm.

Following that, an FA Cup fourth-round meeting with Aston Villa awaits on January 27, before returning to Premier League duty on January 31 against Liverpool, kick-off 8.15pm.

Fulham are also busy with cup commitments. They play the second leg of their respective EFL Cup semi-final against Liverpool on January 24, live on Sky Sports Football, kick-off 8pm.

Newcastle are the next visitors to Craven Cottage in the FA Cup on January 27.

Wednesday 24th January 7:00pm

Kick off 8:00pm

Source link