Fulham 1-3 Chelsea – Match Report
A 17 minute second half hat-trick from Andre Schurrle put Chelsea four points clear at the top of the Premier League table.
It was a game of two different halves as Chelsea were on a full on attacking mode in the second one while compared to the first.
Hosts Fulham had the better chances in the opening period but failed to take them and were made to pay as the visitors moved up through the gears after the break.
Meanwhile, Chelsea are unbeaten in 12 league matches since their 3-2 defeat by Stoke in December – and moved further clear at the top after rivals Arsenal lost 1-0 at Stoke.
Fulham started with Darren Bent up front who was absent in the Cottagers’ last game vs West Brom with Dejagah and Dempsey behind him. Parker, Sidwell and Kasami started in the holding midfield area. Heitinga, Hangeland, Richardson and Reither completed the back four while Hotlby, Rodallega and Karagounis were on the bench.
Torres was chosen to lead the attack for the away time while Schurrle was preferred to Willian after the mid week game in Istanbul. Oscar and Hazard started in their usual positions. Lampard was rested as Matic returned to his defensive midfield position. The defence however never saw any changes from the last game.
The game started in a drab manner for the table toppers when their passing play and wing play was arrested to some extent by Fulham and the hosts engineered some dangerous counter attacks but none of those yielded any desired result.
Gary Cahill displayed great awareness to take the ball away from the foot of Dempsey as the
Fulham attacker attempted to latch on to a Parker pass inside the six-yard box.
Fulham’s defender Hangeland was forced off the field with an injury just after a quarter hour of play. Chelsea somehow opened their play up in the later stages of the half but never really went on to score.
The first half was largely devoid of quality, Chelsea dominating possession but doing little with it, while Fulham pressed hard, humped long balls upfield and struggled for composure in front of goal.
The statement that “football is a game of two halves” was certainly justified as the Blues put up one of their season’s best second half performances.
Chelsea quickly put their poor first-half display behind them as Schurrle opened the scoring seven minutes after the break.
Eden Hazard released Andre Schurrle from the right side and the latter held on to the ball in a spectacular fashion and drove it past the keeper in a cool manner. Hazard managed a brilliant cross in to the box which found Torres but but the 29-year-old saw his header at the back post deflect off Kieran Richardson and away from danger.
Schurrle then scored the second goal 13 minutes later when he received a neat pass from Hazard through the centre and finished it in a similar fashion. The third goal too was a similar one but this time it was Torres who assisted the German and the finish was again in a clinical fashion. Fulham pulled one back through a tap in from John Heitinga.
Fulham (4-3-2-1)- Steklenburg, Heitinga, Hangeland (Burn 15′), Richardson, Reither, Sidwell, Kasami ( Holtby 62′), Parker (Karagounis 72′), Bent.
Chelsea (4-2-3-1)- Cech, Ivanovic, Terry, Cahill, Azpilicueta, Matic, Ramires, Schurrle (Luiz 87′), Oscar (Mikel 77′), Hazard, Torres (Ba 82′)