Mykhailo Mudryk and Armando Broja on target as Chelsea beat derby rivals Fulham
By Reuben Rosso-Powell, PA
Mykhailo Mudryk and Armando Broja were on target as Chelsea claimed west London derby bragging rights with a 2-0 Premier League victory over Fulham at Craven Cottage.
Mudryk opened the scoring before Broja doubled their tally – one minute later – to give the Blues an important three points on the road.
The win brought Chelsea’s three-match winless run in the league to an end and relieved some pressure from the shoulders of Mauricio Pochettino as his side began to turn a corner.
Chelsea started with intent. The visitors enjoyed touches of the ball in dangerous areas and looked positive through the likes of Cole Palmer and Enzo Fernandez, who fed the pacey Mudryk, who blazed over his first attempt in the 10th minute.
But the Ukraine international did not have to be asked twice when he put Chelsea ahead after 18 minutes.
Levi Colwill’s curled pass unleashed the rapid Mudryk, who calmy finished past Bernd Leno to score his first-ever Chelsea goal.
And a minute after the restart, the Blues doubled their lead.
Palmer – who started in his first league game for the away side – pounced on a misplaced pass and slipped through Broja, who found a gap and fired home to give Chelsea a 2-0 advantage.
It was two big chances and two goals for Pochettino’s men, who finally began to show signs of being clinical, having gone three English top-flight games without finding the back of the net.
Fulham were anonymous for much of the first half, but they had a half-chance when the misfiring Raul Jimenez jumped highest at a corner and directed his effort wide of Robert Sanchez’s post in the 41st minute.
Marco Silva brought midweek scorers Carlos Vinicius and Alex Iwobi on at half-time in search of a response and Nigeria international Iwobi started bright when he got on the end of Willian’s cross – but his effort fell kindly into the gloves of goalkeeper Robert Sanchez.
And Carlos Vinicius was lucky to avoid red when he appeared to strike Thiago Silva with his hand before he combined with Iwobi on the hour, where he was stopped in his tracks by Chelsea’s tight defence.
The visitors sought a third on the break when Broja and Palmer worked together to find substitute Ian Maatsen. But his first-time effort cannoned off goalkeeper Bernd Leno’s post before Fernandez’s rebound was denied by the German in goal.
Craven Cottage cried for a goal in the 73rd minute as time ebbed away.
Timothy Castagne marauded down the right flank and did well to beat his man before his driven cross found the head of Vinicius, who again failed to test Sanchez.
The Cottagers looked flat all game and were in clear need of an strong outlet up front to challenge Axel Disasi and 39-year-old Thiago Silva, who were making light work of any Fulham attack.
This was summed up in 12 minutes from time when Sasa Lukic missed a golden opportunity from six yards after Willian’s well-weighted pass.
Chelsea continued to nullify any threats from the hosts and held on to seal victory during five added minutes to move up to 11th in the table.