Debuting João says ciao as Cottagers settle in to top-six
Debutant João Félix was sent off, as goals from Willian and Carlos Vinícius gave Fulham their first win over Chelsea in 21 games to enter the Premier League’s (PL) top-six.
Even though Chelsea sat behind their West London rivals Fulham in the PL ahead of kick-off, it was the Blues who started on the front foot, with the first big chance falling the way of Lewis Hall. The academy graduate’s close-range effort at the far post was well saved by the legs of Bernd Leno, however.
Debutant Félix enjoyed a particularly impressive start – drawing Fulham into needless yellow card challenges and providing the Chelsea attack with a much-needed spark, especially considering they are the lowest scorers in the PL’s top 10. Fulham’s response was just as impressive, and this led to the opening goal. Former Chelsea player Willian came back to haunt his old club, cutting inside the area, before sending an effort into the bottom corner courtesy of Trevoh Chalobah’s deflection in the 25th-minute.
Graham Potter’s side took full advantage of the HT break to come out firing at the start of the second-half, with Kalidou Koulibaly bundling home the equaliser in the 48th minute. The defender tapped home the loose ball, which had initially slammed off the post via Mason Mount’s free-kick. As Chelsea’s night looked set to improve, Félix’s fortunes took a turn for the worse in the 57th minute when the forward’s dangerously high challenge on Kenny Tete resulted in a straight red card, cutting short what had been an impressive debut.
Up against 10 men, Fulham made Chelsea pay with 73 minutes on the clock, when Vinícius – in the absence of the suspended Aleksandar Mitrović – broke free of Chalobah at the back post to head in Andreas Pereira’s inch-perfect cross, putting the hosts back in front. The Cottagers held on to secure all three points and make it four-straight top-flight victories for the first time since 1966, leaving them sixth in the PL. Chelsea, meanwhile, remain as low as 10th and are 10 points adrift of the UEFA Champions League places.