At times it was a nervy and unconvincing 2-0 win for Chelsea against Fulham on Saturday, but they needed it, as they momentarily returned to the top of the Premier League table.
After two-straight defeats over the past seven days, Jose Mourinho’s side ground out the victory against the West London rivals, courtesy of a Oscar goal just after half time and a late John Obi Mikel goal.
The diminutive Brazilian attacker was on hand to clean up in the six-yard box, after a goalmouth scramble played out following Andre Schurrle’s shot in the 51st minute. And Mikel added a second goal in the 83rd minute, as he hammered home a shot from close range to seal what was, in the end, a comfortable win for Chelsea.
A huge sigh of relief could be heard at the full time whistle from the home fans at Stamford Bridge, but something still isn’t quite ticking in Mourinho’s second-spell in charge at Chelsea. The Portuguese manager left both Juan Mata and David Luiz out of his squad, despite both stars players being fit. I’m sure we will hear more about that later.
Early on the Blues looked rusty, and could have easily gone behind after sloppy defensively play.
With less than 10 minutes gone, the entire backline was caught out with one straight through-ball and Darren Bent should have opened the scoring for the Cottagers. Bent, on loan from Premier League rivals Aston Villa, raced clear of John Terry and Gary Cahill and moved in on the Chelsea goal, but the striker hesitated before shooting and goalkeeper Petr Cech rushed out of his goal to smother the shot to safety.
That chance seemed to spark Chelsea into life, and for most of the first half they dominated possession, without really creating any problems for Fulham. Samuel Eto’o had a half chance at the back post, and Schurrle found Ramires’ clever run on the edge of the box just before half time, but the Brazilian midfielders shot was blocked by Fulham.
The teams went in level at the break, but soon after the interval Chelsea piled on the pressure with four straight corners from the right hand side. And eventually that proved too much for Fulham to handle, as Oscar tapped home from inside the six-yard box to give Chelsea a 1-0 lead.
Fernando Torres came on in the second half, replacing Eto’o who is still searching for his first goal, and the Spaniard had a few half chances to double Chelsea’s lead.
Steve Sidwell missed a free header at the back post, as Fulham pressed for an equalizer.
But in the 83rd minute, Chelsea finally added a second after Mikel scored his first league goal in 185 games, slamming home a volley from close range following a corner.
The win ensured Chelsea’s fans, players and manager went home happy after a difficult week at Stamford Bridge.
With the victory Chelsea momentarily sit on top of the table with 10 points, as rivals Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal and Tottenham not playing until Sunday. Fulham drop down to 17th with four points from five games.
Fulham: Stockdale; Riether, Hangeland, Amorebieta, Richardson; Duff (Taarabt, 64), Sidwell, Parker, Kačaniklić (Na Bangna, 72); Kasami; Bent. Subs not used: Etheridge, Senderos, Karagounis, , Rodallega, Zverotić,