Chelsea’s Kepa stars in tight win at Fulham (video)
- Chelsea’s first away win of 2019
- Back-to-back PL wins for Chelsea
- Fulham 10 points from safety
Chelsea edged past battling Fulham 2-1 at Craven Cottage on Sunday, as Maurizio Sarri’s men remain in the top four hunt.
Gonzalo Higuain and Jorginho put Chelsea ahead twice in the first half as Calum Chambers had briefly put Fulham level. The Cottagers, coached by interim boss Scott Parker who replaced Claudio Ranieri on Thursday, battled until the end and almost snatched a draw on several occasions late on but Kepa Arrizabalaga made some great stops.
With the win Chelsea move on to 56 points and are two points off the top four with a game in hand. Fulham remain in 19th place and are 10 points from safety with nine games to go.
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The first big chance of the game arrived for Chelsea as Eden Hazard whipped in a cross but Higuain nodded just wide.
At the other end there was a real moment of worry for Kepa -- recalled to the lineup after the incident during the League Cup final last Sunday -- as he dropped a routine cross but Ryan Babel failed to spot the opportunity and could have had a tap in. Chelsea were ahead moments later.
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Cesar Azpilicueta got free on the right flank and pulled back a perfect ball for Higuain to sweep home at the near post and put Chelsea 1-0 up.
Just when it seemed like Chelsea were going to have an easy game, Fulham came roaring back as Aleksandar Mitrovic’s volley was superbly tipped over by Kepa and from the resulting corner Fulham were level. A cross to the back post found Chambers completely unmarked and he volleyed home to make it 1-1.
Jorginho then restored Chelsea’s lead a few minutes later, as he slotted home a superb finish from outside of the box to make it 2-1. Sergio Rico denied Hazard and Higuain before half time, as Chelsea were in control but Fulham were still in the game.
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The second half followed the same theme as Chelsea dominated the play but Fulham looked threatening.
Willian slammed a shot into the side-netting as Chelsea pushed hard to put the game to bed, but Fulham threatened on the break as Mitrovic curled just over.
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Late on Kepa sprung to action as he denied Tom Cairney, Ryan Sessegnon and Joe Bryan, while Sessegnon had the ball in the back of the net in the 94th minute but he was correctly called offside.
After a tough week, Chelsea hung on for a big win.