After the gut-wrenching defeat in the FA Cup semi-final, Chelsea bounced back with a decisive win at Craven Cottage, defeating Fulham 3-0 in a West London derby. A John Terry brace of headers and a stunning 30-yard piledriver from David Luiz set the tone for the Blues and moves them over Arsenal for third place in the league.
Chelsea could have been forgiven for having a bit of fatigue and a bit of a mental lapse after the defeat at the weekend at the hands of Manchester City and the fact that this was their 60th match of the season. However, it was not to be as Chelsea were able to raise their energy levels and show their mental fortitude to see off a Fulham side that haven’t been on the best run of form, but will solidly finish in mid-table.
That’s not to say all was comfortable. Just like the weekend, the Blues started slowly, and the hosts could have been 1-0 inside the first three minutes when Bryan Ruiz found himself unmarked inside the six-yard box only to find a way to volley over Sascha Riether’s cross from the left.
Moments later, Frank Lampard looked to edge ever closer to Bobby Tambling’s club record for goals when he tried to stab home from close range after a good flick-on header from Fernando Torres, but Mark Schwarzer was there to smother the attempt.
Chelsea may have gotten a small stroke of luck when Mike Dean decided to just show yellow in the 17th minute for a rugged challenge from Branislav Ivanovic. Replays suggested there may have been a hint of two-footedness to the challenge, but the ref decided against showing a red that would have put a good result under threat.
Undeterred, Fulham started moving through the gears and began to press the visitors for the opening, and Giorgos Karagounis cut in from the left hand side to let fly with a 25-yard effort that just cleared the crossbar of Petr Cech.
Fulham were sitting deep and organised, and it appeared that a moment of magic would be needed to break the deadlock. Enter David Luiz, who collected the ball in midfield in the 30th minute and let fly with an absolutely stunning strike to the top corner that dipped and swerved under the crossbar, and Chelsea had the lead.
Fulham tried to erase the memory of that absolute pearler when Urby Emanuelson cut inside from the left and forced a fingertip save from Cech, while Fulham talisman Dimitar Berbatov sliced an outside-of-the-boot effort wide from just outside the box.
It would be Chelsea’s talisman that would once again knock the stuffing out of Fulham, as Terry evaded the young right back Riethier and headed home a Juan Mata cross to give the Blues their second goal.
That goal seemed to knock the stuffing out of Fulham, and that carried on into the second half. Juan Mata should have made it a third just after the half, but failed to get onto the end of a teasing Torres cross from just inside the box.
It would be Terry that would have the last say and once again with his head. Off a corner kick, Torres flicked-on header arrowed toward the goal, and Terry was on hand to guide it in before it was most likely cleared off the line to give the Blues their third and a comfortable win in what could have easily been a difficult away fixture.
They don’t get any easier, and points will be at a premium with the Blues heading up to Merseyside for Rafa Benitez’s return to Anfield on Sunday.
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