Two weeks ago Chelsea travelled the two miles to Craven Cottage for our 1-4 Premiership win, tonight it was back to the Cottage with 6000 travelling fans for our Carling Cup Quarter Final. This was the 60th SW6 postcode derby, the last time Fulham had beaten Chelsea at home was in 1977 when a certain George Best scored in a 3-1 victory. On a freezing cold night Jose made six changes, which for the Carling Cup has been the norm this season. In came Cudicini for Cech, Johnson for Ferreira, Wayne Bridge replaced William Gallas. Alexey Smertin came in for Tiago, Scott Parker for Lampard and Didier Drogba for his first full start since his injury against Liverpool for Eidur Gudjohnsen. This was a game that would have taken us to the Carling Cup Semi’s for the first time in three years, with Man Utd, Arsenal, Spurs, Liverpool, Portsmouth and Watford still in the competition it could provide us with our first trophy since 2000.
Fulham started the game as if their lives depended on it. At the weekend they had performed very poorly against Blackburn and Chris Coleman had torn into his team saying that he needed a far better performance tonight to stay in the Carling Cup. A couple of minutes into the game a Mark Pembridge shot was blocked by Ricardo Carvalho to give the home team the first corner of the evening. In the first 20 minutes Coleman’s words must have sunk in because they were by far the superior team. In the fourth minute a cross from Andy Cole was missed by McBride as he tried a flick that was fairly reminiscent of Gianfranco Zola’s against Norwich few seasons ago, however this was nowhere near Franco’s effort as McBride didn’t get anywhere near the ball. Our first effort came just before the 20-minute mark when Damien Duff found the ball on the right, he crossed low, but it was out of Didier Drogba’s reach. Jose Mourinho then swapped Duff and Robben so that Robben was on the right with Duff on the left. Just after that Arjen Robben beat two defenders and had his shot palmed away by Van Der Sar. It was our first shot on target as we tried to settle after a bit of an unsteady start.
After the Robben chance either team could have taken the lead before half time, a pass by Legwinski found Andy Cole but he couldn’t get onto the through ball as it went out for a goal kick. Just before half time Didier Drogba could have netted, but Bocanegra blocked his effort. As the ball went out for a corner the referee blew his whistle for half time. Fulham were looking a far better team than when we played them a couple of weeks ago and had posed us quite a few problems during the first half. The second half started at a good pace, Chelsea were starting to show some great passing and movement, however again it was Fulham that had the first chance in the second half. A Boconegra cross from the right found the leaping Andy Cole whose header shaved the outside of Carlo Cudicini’s post and went out for the goal kick. In the 55th minute, a minute after Cole’s effort we went 0-1 up. Arjen Robben showed fantastic trickery as he ran into the Fulham half, Robben played in Damien Duff who’d overlapped on the left, at first Duff’s shot looked like it might be going wide but it deflected off of former Chelsea player Ian Pearce’s knee, deceived the diving Van Der Sar and found the back of the net. Chelsea deserved the lead as we’d started the second half the better team. This was Duffer’s fifth goal of the season and his third in as many games. After the goal we started knocking the ball around in true Chelsea style, it was Fulham who were chasing shadows as the shouts of olé came from the Chelsea end every time a player in a blue shirt touched the ball.
It seemed as though there was no way back for Fulham especially with our watertight defence, with that it seemed like a predictable 0-1 result was on the cards. This was until Chris Coleman made a substitution. In the 73rd minute off came Andy Cole and on came Elvis Hammond, 30 seconds later it was 1-1. Sylvan Legwinski ran down the right, he found Hammond who turned and with his first touch of the game found McBride, from a matter of yards he put the ball past Carlo. Suddenly it was game on as Jose had taken off Robben and bought Joe Cole on. Just after the equaliser on came Frank Lampard for Damien Duff, the game looked like it was going to go into extra time, however a disputed Eidur Gudjohnsen offside decision denied us a 1-2 lead. With two minutes to go we wrapped the game up. Scott Parker found Super Frankie Lampard, he turned and slotted the ball past Van Der Sar who’d dived early, the ball bounced in front and over him and this time it really was 1-2! There was no way back for Fulham and their dismal record of not beating Chelsea at Craven Cottage since 1977 continued. The final whistle blew after a couple of minute’s injury time and it was the blue half of SW6 that progressed to the Semi Finals. At the end of the game Frank Lampard dedicated his goal to his Grandfather who died last Saturday, I’m sure all of us at CFCnet send our condolences to Frank and his family and thank him for the goal this evening!
So, bring on the Semi’s! Cardiff and the Millennium Stadium are in our sights!
Fulham: Van Der Sar, Volz, Pearce, Rehman, Bocanegra, Diop, Pembridge, Legwinski, Malbranque, McBride, A. Cole, (Hammond 73)
Subs Not Used: Flitney, Radzinski, Green, Rosenior
Chelsea: Cudicini, Johnson, Terry, Carvalho, Bridge, Makelele, Smertin, Parker, Duff (Lampard 76), Drogba (Gudjohnsen 58), Robben (J. Cole 62)
Subs Not Used: Cech, Ferreira
Referee: S Dunn.