Premier League: Chelsea beat Fulham 2-0 at Stamford Bridge to move top of the table
By Tim Oscroft. Last Updated: September 22, 2013 7:00am
Chelsea celebrate at Stamford Bridge
Chelsea moved to the top of the Premier League after two goals in the second half handed them a 2-0 victory over Fulham.
Oscar put the Blues ahead seven minutes after half-time, and John Obi Mikel sealed the win with a rare goal just before the end.
Fulham were left to rue a missed chance for Darren Bent in the first half, when the England striker shot too close to Petr Cech when one-on-one with the Chelsea keeper.
Jose Mourinho's side were settled by Oscar's strike, and could have had more but for a couple of fine saves from Fulham keeper David Stockdale.
Roman Abramovich did not appear impressed watching down from his seat, but Oscar's third of the season and Mikel's third for the club in more than 300 appearances were enough for the Blues to get back on track.
Best of the Match
- Man of the match: Oscar. With all the talk about Mata's absence, Oscar showed why Jose Mourinho is already relying on him with an influential display.
- Moment of the match: Darren Bent missed a golden opportunity to put Fulham ahead, shooting too close to Petr Cech. Fulham barely threatened after that.
- Attempt of the match: Andre Schurrle's shot, spilled by David Stockdale, that then allowed Chelsea to break the shackles through Oscar.
- Save of the match: David Stockdale made a fine stop to keep out a Torres header, but can count himself unlucky that Chelsea doubled their lead just seconds later.
- Talking point: Chelsea have had a poor week, it would seem, with defeats to Everton and Basel, yet end it top of the table - although there are some important games on Sunday to come. Crisis? What crisis?
After two "ugly" results - the recent defeats, which followed a draw at Manchester United and a European Super Cup penalty shoot-out loss to Bayern Munich - this was far from pretty.
Mourinho left out Juan Mata and David Luiz, both of whom sat behind the bench having failed to satisfy their manager's tactical demands.
In the first half, it looked like Chelsea could have done with them, Mata for his guile and Luiz for his ability to play a defence-splitting pass.
Samuel Eto'o, profligate in the loss at Everton and anonymous against Basel, next had an opportunity to put the Blues in front but Stockdale did just enough to deflect Branislav Ivanovic's cross away at the near post.
Andre Schurrle, nominally starting in Mata's place on the right wing with Mourinho preferring Oscar as his number 10, kicked thin air when an Ivanovic cross was played towards him at waist height before Fulham had the chance of the half.
Bent was played through by Pajtim Kasami and had enough pace to surge clear, but Cech held his weak shot. It was a fluffed chance which illustrated the on-loan Aston Villa striker is still to find form after a number of niggles this term, yet still John Terry appeared ruffled every time Bent was lurking.
Chelsea had numerous opportunities themselves but did not test Stockdale, with Fulham time and again getting in crucial blocks.
Having performed well in the first period, Stockdale was culpable for the opening goal.
Schurrle cut in from the left and fired right-footed straight at the Fulham goalkeeper, who failed to hold the ball, allowing Eto'o to follow up. The Cameroon striker's effort was blocked by Stockdale, but Oscar bundled the ball in via a deflection as the Brazil forward extended his fine start to a campaign.
Moments later, Fulham should have levelled but Steve Sidwell, unmarked at the far post with Chelsea's defenders occupied by Brede Hangeland, headed Kasami's free-kick wide.
Stockdale made a fine reaction save to deny Fernando Torres from Oscar's corner, resulting in another set-piece. Frank Lampard's cross was headed down by Terry for Mikel to scissor-kick the ball in.
The Nigeria midfielder's previous goals were in successive FA Cup rounds in January 2007 against Macclesfield and Nottingham Forest and in the remaining minutes Mikel was urged to shoot by the Stamford Bridge faithful, even when in his more customary position protecting the back four.
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Chelsea v Fulham
It's been a difficult week for Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho after the club recorded back to back defeats and with his decision to keep Juan Mata out of the team, the press are starting to ask questions of the special one.
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has challenged Juan Mata to prove him wrong, and change his game to fit into the new philosophy at the club.
Martin Jol did not want to blame Darren Bent or David Stockdale following Fulham's 2-0 defeat at local rivals Chelsea.