Palmer the star as Chelsea down plucky neighbours Fulham 1-0 in dour derby at the Bridge

By Paul Lagan at Stamford Bridge

Chelsea 1 v Fulham 0


Cole Palmer is the player of the season for the Blues so far and he proved so again this afternoon as he scored the only goal, but also showed exceptional skill, vision and a massive work rate, that would put a defender to shame let alone a attacking midfielder,

The goal that downed plucky but unimaginative Fulham, was from the penalty spot on the stroke of half-time, and the visitors can take a crumb of comfort from the fact that Chelsea really didn’t create much else in the way of clinical finishing.

Palmer was the villain of the piece as he missed a hat-trick of chances in midweek in the Carabao Cup semi-final at Middlesbrough but he did not show any hangover from that trial as his class shone out across the Stamford Bridge pitch.

Chelsea leap to the dizzy heights to eighth while Fulham, while not in a relegation battle yet, must be thinking they need to get back on track – they stay 13th in the division.

Chelsea dominated the opening exchanges, gradually pushing the noisy neighbours from thee other end of the Fulham Road further back.

Whites boss Marco Silva gestured to his charges not to fall too deep and to compress the midfield, and that area became the battleground that both sides needed to take control of.

A left-footed Conor Gallagher was the first effort close to goal ether side came to on 16 minutes, but the Blues skipper hit his effort high over Bernd Leno and the crossbar.

A well-worked effort on the left on 21 minutes involving Raheem Sterling, Enzo and finally Armando Broja, saw the Albanian striker get a head on the ball, but he could not direct it on goal.

Gradually Fulham got a foothold in the game, retained possession better and even had then first shot on target – albeit a weak effort from Andreas Pereira which failed to trouble Djordje Petrovic.

A minute later he did much better parrying away an excellent shot from Harry Wilson, as Fulham sought to get at Chelsea by getting behind the defence and cutting back from the byline.

Right on the stroke of half-time, The Blues were given a penalty when Diop clipped the right boot of Sterling.

Up stepped Cole Palmer who with the last kick of the half, stroked the ball home, sending Leno the wrong way in the process.

There were no changes by either side at the break, but the Blues continued as they had in the first half, on the front foot.

#Sterling had a glorious chance on 62 minutes to double the lead, when he beat the offside trap, but his glancing header from eight yards out nipped off Leno’s left upright and was cleared to safety

Silva was first head coach to blink, bringing on Bobby De Cordova-Reid and Timothy Castagne for harry Wilson and and Kenny Tete on 64 minutes.

Pochettino responded by bringing on Noni Broja.

The changes galvanised Fulham more than Chelsea and Petrovic had to make a smart save to thwart Raul Jimenez on 74 minutes when his sliced kick saw Petrovic dive low to his right and tip the goal-bound effort away.

Ben Chilwell came on for Sterling on 76 minutes and he was instantly given the skipper’s armband from Gallagher.

The substitutions continued, this time for the visitors with Rodrigo Muniz and Sasa Lukic coming on for Pereira and Palhinha on 82 minutes.

Gallagher was very unlucky to see his snatched, outside of his right-boot curler smack off Leno’s right post one minute later.

Alfie Gilchrist got more Premier League minutes under his belt along with Carney Chukwuemeka who both came came on as the clock turn to 90 minutes – off went Palmer and Malo Gusto.

It got all very desperate as the five added minutes played out, both benches hoping against hope they would either prevent the other from scoring or in Fulham’s case nick an equaliser.

Teams – Chelsea: Petrovic, Disasi, Silva, Sterling, Enzo, Broja, Palmer, Gallagher, Caicedo, Colwill, Gusto

Subs: Bettinelli, Bergstrom, Badiashile, Mudryk, Noni, Chukwuemeka, Chilwell, Deivid, Gilchrist

Fulham: Leno, Tete, Adarabioyo, Jimenez, Wilson, Cairney, Pereira, Willian, Palhinha, Diop, Robinson

Subs: Rodak, Reed, Ream, De Cordova-Reid, Muniz, Castagne, Lukic, Vinicius, Francois

Referee: Antony Taylor

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