Fulham vs. Chelsea  1 - 1

Article

Premier League: Fulham 1 Chelsea 1

9 April 2012 23:19

Chelsea slipped up in the race for Champions League football after being held to a 1-1 Premier League draw at Fulham on Monday.

An end-to-end affair failed to produce any clear-cut chances for much of the first half, yet the visitors entered the break a goal ahead after Frank Lampard slotted home a penalty following Stephen Kelly's challenge on Salomon Kalou.

Chelsea were pegged back for much of the second half, and Martin Jol's men eventually found the equaliser after Clint Dempsey's glancing header drifted into the corner of the net.

A rain-soaked Craven Cottage was treated to an equally damp opening, as neither side managed to create any telling opportunities early on.

As the game wore on it was the visitors who began to take control, yet they were reduced to long-range efforts as John Obi Mikel, Kalou and Raul Meireles tested Mark Schwarzer's goal.

The warning shots sparked the home side into action, and Petr Cech had to be at his best to deny Dempsey and the lively Kerim Frei.

Chelsea withstood the pressure and were awarded a penalty after Kelly appeared to clip the heels of Kalou, with referee Mark Clattenburg instantly pointing to the penalty spot.

Lampard stepped up and slotted his spot-kick into Schwarzer's bottom right-hand corner, notching his 150th Premier League goal and handing his side a half-time lead.

Roberto Di Matteo's side made a bright start to the second half with Lampard firing narrowly wide of Schwarzer's right-hand post before coming within inches of latching on to Ryan Bertrand's teasing cross.

Despite the visitors' dominance, Frei continued to pose a threat to the Chelsea defence, with his intelligent pass setting up John Arne Riise for a shot which glided just wide of Cech's far post.

With the home side beginning to take control, Di Matteo introduced the ever-creative Juan Mata in an attempt to find a second goal, yet Fulham continued to press with wide-men Frei and Damien Duff looking increasingly dangerous.

Fulham also posed a threat from set pieces, and Aaron Hughes produced a stunning save from Cech after he had eluded the Chelsea back-line, before the home side's pressure eventually told from the resulting corner.

More lacklustre Chelsea defending saw Dempsey find himself free in the area, and the American's header sailed into goal following a slight touch from Gary Cahill.

The draw sees Chelsea move within two points of the final Champions League place, while Fulham draw level on points with Liverpool in ninth.

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Premier League preview: Fulham v Chelsea

9 April 2012 14:22

Chelsea will continue their bid for Champions League qualification away to west London neighbours Fulham on Monday.

Following the sacking of Andre Villas-Boas last month, Chelsea have enjoyed a revival in fortunes under interim manager Roberto di Matteo.

They have reached the semi-finals of both the FA Cup and Champions League, while also picking up three wins from five matches in the English Premier League.

On Saturday Chelsea saw off Wigan Athletic 2-1 at home, moving to within two points of fourth-placed Arsenal, and three back from Tottenham Hotspur, who are third.

Dressing-room unrest was reportedly a major cause of Villas-Boas' premature departure, but Di Matteo now appears to have united the squad behind a common goal.

"The players have accepted that we are a team, a group," he said.

"They realise that everyone is needed to be able to achieve our targets. It's the only way, we cannot just play with 11 players, we need the whole squad.

"I'm working my socks off to help this team become successful. But so far we have not proved anything and we have not achieved anything.

"We have to ensure we finish well to guarantee Champions League football for next season. That's the big target.

"At the moment there are four teams fighting for the last two qualifying places and it will go right to the last game of the season."

Chelsea's opponents on Monday, Fulham, are a respectable 10th in the standings, and recorded a convincing 3-0 win away to struggling Bolton in their last fixture.

US international Clint Dempsey netted twice in the victory at the Reebok Stadium, and is likely to be among the chief threats to Chelsea's ambitions when the two teams take to the field at Craven Cottage.

Di Matteo may have to make do without two key defenders, as club captain John Terry (rib injury) and fullback Ashley Cole (ankle sprain) are both in doubt.

A leg injury may also prevent the involvement of midfielder Frank Lampard.

Fulham, already without Zdenek Grygera (knee), Steve Sidwell (groin) and Andy Johnson (knee), look to have been robbed of Bryan Ruiz's services after the forward suffered a suspected broken toe in the win over Bolton.

Premier League table

# Team MP D P
1 38 +64 89
2 38 +56 89
3 38 +25 70
4 38 +25 69
5 38 +5 65
6 38 +19 64
7 38 +10 56
8 38 +7 52
9 38 -3 52
10 38 -7 47
11 38 -7 47
12 38 -14 47
13 38 -1 45
14 38 -17 45
15 38 -20 43
16 38 -16 38
17 38 -23 37
18 38 -31 36
19 38 -30 31
20 38 -42 25