Mason Mount scored the only goal of the game as Chelsea overcame strong resistance to beat 10-man Fulham at Craven Cottage.
Frank Lampard’s side looked the better team for much of the match, but it was the hosts who carved out the best chance of the half when Ivan Cavaleiro, the goalscoring hero against Spurs in midweek, miscued a golden chance over the bar when found unmarked on the penalty spot.
Fulham’s hopes of an upset took a significant hit when Antonee Robinson was shown a straight red card moments before the break for a lunging challenge on Cesar Azpilicueta – the sort of tackle that can look harsh when punished by a sending off, yet one that the new rules are determined to stamp out.
And the pressure from Chelsea finally paid off after a second-half spent largely in Fulham’s final third, with Mount drilling home from the edge of the box to end the hosts’ brave resistance.
The win, only Chelsea’s second in seven Premier League games, moves Lampard’s side up to seventh in the table. Fulham remain in the bottom three and four points from safety.
Talking Point – Are tackles like that really deserving of a red?
Scott Parker was clearly upset that Robinson was sent off for his challenge on Azpilicueta and in some ways you can understand why. The challenge wasn’t made with an intent to hurt, it wasn’t particularly dangerous and there wasn’t a huge amount of contact.
However, lunging challenges at pace are the sort of thing that can result in really serious injuries and given the current laws you can see why the referee gave the red card (and why VAR saw no reason to overturn the decision).
It’s a fine balance to protect the players and not change the face of the game itself, but if Robinson thinks twice before lunging in like that again then the red card is probably just about justified. Whether it encourages recipients of such tackles to act more hurt than they are is a conversation for another day… although Azpilicueta’s reaction did suggest he could always fall back on a career in the West End when his playing days are over.
Man of the Match – Mason Mount (Chelsea)
It was far from a vintage Chelsea performance and certainly not Mount’s best game for the club, but one of the reasons that Frank Lampard likes the player so much is his ability to conjure up match-defining moments, and he did just that to win this game.
In fact, Mount’s winner was exactly the sort of goal that his manager scored so many of during his career, arriving late on the edge of the box and making sure he kept his shot low.
He doesn’t set the pulses racing like some of his attacking team-mates are capable of doing at Chelsea, but Mount is an understatedly excellent player and is improving all the time.
Chelsea: Mendy 5, Azpilicueta 6, Silva 7, Rudiger 7, Chilwell 6, Jorginho 6, Kovacic 6, Mount 8, Ziyech 7, Pulisic 6, Giroud 7. Subs: Abraham 6, Hudson-Odoi 7, Werner 5.
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24’ – A weak clearance falls straight to the feet of Mount inside the Fulham box and he rattles the crossbar with a thumping shot. That’s comfortably the best chance of the game so far and the ploy of raining in crosses has finally produced something.
40’ – What a chance that is for Fulham! A wonderful bit of interplay between Robinson and Lookman down the left opens Chelsea up, before the former picks out a great pass to Tete on the far side. The wing-back opts against a shot and finds Cavaleiro, completely unmarked and ten yards out, but the hero against Spurs can’t find the finish this time and balloons it over the bar.
44’ RED CARD! – Robinson goes in hard on Azpilicueta and the referee brandishes a red card. That is a tad harsh given he barely made contact with the Chelsea man, but it was a lunging challenge at pace so you can see why the ref’s given it and VAR is not going to overturn a decision like that.
78’ GOAL! – Mason Mount scores for Chelsea! A cross into the box is swiped away by Areola, but Mount is left in space on the edge of the box and he keeps his composure to drill a shot home. That’s a big goal for Chelsea.
94’ – Fulham throw bodies forward for the free-kick, but Chelsea deal with it and break. Werner is clean through on the inside left, but he can’t find the finish and sends his shot well wide of the far post.
Olivier Giroud of Chelsea looks dejected during the Premier League match between Fulham and Chelsea at Craven Cottage
Image credit: Getty Images
Stats and Facts
No side has scored more goals in the last 15 minutes of matches this season than Chelsea. Mount’s winner was their 11th.
Antonee Robinson is the eighth American to be sent off in the history of the Premier League.
Fulham have now not won a Premier League game against London opposition since 2014 – a 19-game run that has seen two draws and 17 defeats.