Chelsea moved closer to the title with by beating Fulham 3-1 at Stamford Bridge – although Collins John briefly threatened to spoil Jose Mourinho’s procession.
Fulham’s teenage forward stunned the home crowd by cancelling out Joe Cole’s brilliant opener with a fine finish of his own just before half time, but the hosts reasserted themselves after the break and Arjen Robben made a crucial second for Frank Lampard before Eidur Gudjohnsen put the game beyond Chris Coleman’s side late on. This victory leaves Chelsea only one more win away from the lifting the Premiership trophy.
The visitors managed to nullify Chelsea’s array of attacking talent for twenty minutes until Cole curled an extraordinary finish beyond Edwin van der Sar after beating Alain Goma from Didier Drogba’s pass. Drogba might have doubled the lead but he drove past the post after turning dangerously in the box and then appealed unsuccessfully for a penalty after colliding with Volz in the box.
Fulham were threatening on the break and conjured up a decent opening for Brian McBride, who fired wastefully over, after Luis Boa Morte and Liam Rosenior had linked up on the left flank. Boa Morte played a prominent part in Fulham’s equaliser just before half-time playing a through ball that John sped on to, impressively outrunning Ricardo Carvalho and making light of an acute angle with an excellent finish.
Robben replaced an injured Cole at half-time and, just as he did at Craven Cottage earlier in the season, the Dutchman tormented the Fulham defence. He might have restored Chelsea’s lead with a low shot that flashed wide before van der Sar did well to tackle Glen Johnson as the full-back bore down on goal. Fulham’s defence finally cracked when Damien Duff found Robben, who tricked his way past Volz, and cut a precise ball back for Lampard to fire home.
Fulham tried to force another equaliser but the closest they came was when Petr Cech tipped over a rising drive from Tomasz Radzinski and Chelsea always appeared favourites to add to their tally. They might have had a penalty when Alain Goma tripped Tiago but Gudjohnsen made sure of the three points with a composed late finish after he ran through the remnants of a tired Fulham defence.
CHELSEA (4-3-3): Cech; Johnson, Ricardo Carvalho, Terry, Huth (Jarosik 45); Makelele, Lampard, J. Cole (Robben 45); Duff, Drogba (Tiago 74), Gudjohnsen. Subs (not used): Cudicini, Kezman.
GOALS: J. Cole (17), Lampard (64), Gudjohnsen (87).
FULHAM (4-4-2): Van der Sar; Volz, Rosenior, Knight, Goma; Pembridge (Malbranque 84), Clark, Radzinski, Boa Morte; McBride, John. Subs (not used): Crossley, Bocanegra, Rehman, Jensen.
GOAL: John (41).
REFEREE: Alan Wiley (Staffordshire).