Kai Havertz doubled his Premier League goals tally with a brace as Chelsea edged rivals Fulham closer to the relegation trap door with a 2-0 victory at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
Havertz handed Chelsea a 10th-minute lead with a delicate, lofted finish after Mason Mount’s sublime control and through pass. The German added his second four minutes into the second half with another composed finish after combining with compatriot Timo Werner.
With an eye perhaps on Wednesday’s Champions League semi-final second leg with Real Madrid, Thomas Tuchel made five pre-match alterations. Despite Fulham’s valiant efforts, Chelsea were rarely tested and could have made the victory more handsome had it not been for a number of inspired saves from Alphonse Areola.
Chelsea’s 15th victory in all competitions under Tuchel sees them move to within two points of third-place Leicester and open up a six-point cushion to West Ham in fifth in the race for a top-four finish.
For Fulham, defeat leaves them in 18th place, nine points adrift of Newcastle and Burnley having crucially played a game more than their relegation rivals.
Havertz heaps misery on toothless Fulham
Fulham’s plight towards the foot of the table left them with little option but to assert themselves from the first whistle, and they gave Chelsea a real fright inside five minutes when Antonee Robinson’s drive forced Edouard Mendy into a fingertip save.
The early pressure on the Chelsea goal forced Tuchel out of his seat on two occasions, with Reece James bearing the brunt of the tirade for his failure to move forward in support of the attack, and the hosts responded to their manager’s rallying calls.
Chelsea nearly took the lead on seven minutes when Hakim Ziyech linked up with Mason Mount and he played a square ball into the area which Timo Werner couldn’t quite reach on the stretch.
Mason exquisitely plucked the ball out of the air before slipping Havertz through on goal, and the German lifted the ball over the on-rushing Areola for his third Premier League goal.
Havertz had the ball in the net eight minutes later when he latched onto another through ball from Mount and lifted the ball over Areola, but it was correctly ruled out for offside.
Fulham grew after the reprieve, pushing for the equaliser as Ademola Lookman’s rasping drive drew Mendy into another save in the Chelsea goal.
Areola came to Fulham’s rescue on 39 minutes as he anticipated Werner’s square pass to Ziyech, committed early to the dive and kept the Morocco international’s effort out with a save he had no right to make. It wasn’t long before he the Fulham stopper was called upon again, with Werner’s low drive well kept out.
Parker emphasised to his team the importance of reaching the interval without conceding a second, but Fulham very nearly hauled themselves level on the stroke of half-time, with Ola Aina’s heavily deflected shot clawed off the line by Mendy.
Fulham had failed to win any of the previous 54 Premier League games when they trailed at half-time, and their challenge was effectively ended within four minutes of the restart when Havertz and Werner had all the time in the world to bypass the Fulham defence with a one-two, and Havertz slotted his second past Areola.
Parker introduced Aleksandar Mitrovic for the final 10 minutes but he failed to inspire their survival bid as Fulham failed to register a single attempt on target in the second half and drew a blank for the 16th time this season, and Chelsea warmed up for Wendesday’s showdown with Madrid at a canter.
What the managers said…
Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel: “We knew Fulham gives everyone a hard time. They make you under-perform, and they make you suffer. You cannot get confused with the table. That’s why I have the highest respect for what we did today. It was tough for us, but we hang in the game. We could decide the match earlier, but it was a tough and a very important win.
“We were spot on. It was what we demanded from ourselves. We showed the pride we are capable of – to do it in between two big games. I’m beyond happy that we did it. There was no lack of concentration. We had some trouble which everyone against this Fulham side has but there was no lack of concentration and that was key.”
Fulham manager Scott Parker: “Of course we’ve not got a positive result but in terms of attitude and desire we got that. And I got a performance. We’ve seen what this team are about, and we put our stamp on it.
“Of course, overall, that quality from Chelsea came through in the two goals. But honestly, I’m nothing but proud of my team. In the last few weeks they have been some disappointing performances.
“I understand the questions, but you take every game as it is. You need a performance and I got that today. But, like a few times this year, we’ve fallen short and this was one of them moments.”
Chelsea kings of the Kings Road – Match stats
Chelsea remain unbeaten in their last 19 home matches against Fulham in all competitions (W11 D8), since a 0-2 defeat in October 1979 – only versus Everton (31), Hull City (23) and Middlesbrough (21) are the Blues currently enjoying a longer unbeaten run at Stamford Bridge.
All eight of Kai Havertz’s goals for Chelsea in all competitions have been scored in London (seven at Stamford Bridge and one at Selhurst Park).
Fulham remain winless in their last 24 Premier League London derbies (D5 L19), since a 2-1 victory against West Ham in January 2014 – in top-flight history, only Crystal Palace have endured a longer winless run in London derbies (31 games between August 1969 – March 1973).
Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel has kept more clean sheets (11) than any other manager in Premier League history from their first 15 games in charge in the competition (overtaking Mourinho and Scolari, 10 each from their first 15).
Fulham have failed to win any of their 10 Premier League London derbies this season (D4 L6) – this is the seventh occasion of a side from the capital failing to win any of their Premier League games against fellow London clubs, with Fulham responsible for four of those instances (also in 2007-08, 2010-11 and 2018-19).
Mason Mount (5 goals, 2 assists) and Timo Werner (2 goals, 5 assists) have been involved in more Chelsea goals under Thomas Tuchel than any other player in all competitions.
Man of the Match – Kai Havertz
Sky Sports’ Alan Smith:
“Havertz is my man of the match. I could have given it to Mount because he was magnificent. But two goals for Havertz, it’s not been easy for him this season, he had COVID, he’s had injuries, settled in a different country. Those two goals today would have tasted sweet. He finished them really tidily.”
Soccer Accumulator Bonus
Our fantastic Euro Soccer accumulator offer gives you the chance to earn a bonus of up to on accumulators on the top domestic leagues in Europe along with the group and knockout stages of the Champions League.
This offer applies to returns on pre-match accumulators of 3 or more selections on Full Time Result or Result/Both Teams To Score markets for the English Premier League, Italian Serie A, Spanish Primera Liga, German Bundesliga 1 or UEFA Champions League.
The maximum bonus that you can receive is ˆ100,000 or currency equivalent. The bonus will not apply where a stake has been fully Cashed Out. Where a stake has been partially Cashed Out, the bonus will be calculated based .on the remaining active stake. If a qualifying bet is edited .using our Edit Bet feature. The bonus will be calculated based on the new stake. Where a bet has been edited to include or amend a selection for an event that is In-Play, the bonus will no longer apply. Double Chance bets or combination bets with bonuses. Such as Lucky 15’s or Lucky .31’s do not apply for this offer.
If your bet is successful, we will add the following bonuses to your returns:
Bet Type Bonus
14-folds and upwards bonus
Terms and Conditions
Applies to straight pre-match accumulator bets on the Full Time Result or Result/Both Teams To Score markets for UEFA Champions League, English Premier League, Italian Serie A, Spanish Primera Liga, German Bundesliga .1 or Australian A-League matches. Maximum bonus ˆ100,000 or currency equivalent. Soccer Accumulator Bonus does not apply to Double Chance bets or combination. bets with bonuses such as Lucky 15’s, Lucky 31’s etc.
If any selections are postponed/void then the bonus will still apply, but the percentage bonus added will reflect the actual number of winning selections. For example, an 8-fold accumulator with 7. winners and 1 postponed match will receive a 30% .bonus to returns.
The bonus part of your returns will be added to your account within 24 hours of your final selection having played.
This bonus will not apply where a stake has been fully Cashed Out. Where a stake has been partially Cashed Out, the bonus will be calculated based on the remaining active stake.
If a qualifying bet is edited using our Edit Bet feature, the bonus will be calculated based on the new stake. Where a bet has been edited to include or amend a selection for an event that is In-Play, the bonus will no longer apply.
Where any term of the offer or promotion is breached or there is any evidence of a series of bets placed by a customer or group of customers, which due to a deposit bonus, enhanced payments, free bets, risk free bets or any other promotional offer results in guaranteed customer profits irrespective of the outcome, whether individually or as part of a group, bet365 reserves the right to reclaim the bonus element of such offers and in their absolute discretion either settle bets at the correct odds, void the free and risk free. bets or void any bet funded by the deposit bonus.
In addition bet365 .reserve the right to levy an administration charge on the customer up to the value of the deposit bonus, free bet, risk free bet or additional payment to cover administrative costs. We further reserve the right to ask any customer to provide sufficient documentation for us to be satisfied in our absolute discretion as to the customer’s identity prior to us crediting any bonus, free bet, risk free bet or offer to their account.
All bet365 offers are intended for recreational players and bet365 may in its sole discretion limit the eligibility of customers to participate in all or part of any promotion.