A second half double from Frank Lampard helped Chelsea break Fulham’s stubborn resistance in the SW6 derby at Craven Cottage.
Arjen Robben – who has so often tormented Fulham over the years – struck the bar in the first half but Fulham missed a glorious chance to go in front themselves when Papa Bouba Diop headed wide just after the hour mark. Ten minutes later, Lampard drove home a penalty after Liam Rosenior handled in his own box and, with the home side looking for a late leveller, the England international settled the contest with a low strike from the edge of the area after being found by Didier Drogba.
The result was harsh on Fulham who played with vigour and commitment against the defending champions. Wayne Routledge stung Petr Cech’s palms early on as the hosts began brightly. It took Chelsea a while to settle but Robben rattled the bar from 25 yards and Antti Niemi saved well from Michael Essien, before Rosenior’s last-ditch tackle denied Drogba.
Fulham came again after the interval with Michael Brown furious that Mark Halsey didn’t award a penalty after Cech held him back. The referee actually gave a free kick the other way, adjudging that Brown had aggressively tackled the Chelsea goalkeeper first. Diop somehow headed Franck Quedrue’s free-kick wide when it appeared easier to score and the visitors nearly raced up the other end and scored. Salomon Kalou had a shot blocked by Ian Pearce, Andriy Shevchenko was denied by Niemi from the rebound and Drogba’s follow-up clipped the bar on its way over.
Jose Mourinho’s men eventually got the breakthrough after Rosenior was deemed to have handled in the area and Lampard lashed the penalty high into the net. Drogba then picked Fulham off on the break, playing in Lampard for his second as the home side were seeking an equaliser. Brown should have been sent off for a late lunge at Ashley Cole, but his horror tackle wasn’t seen by the referee.
FULHAM (4-5-1): Niemi; Rosenior, Quedrue, Knight, Pearce; Volz, Bocanegra (Helguson 77), Diop, Brown, Routledge; John (McBride 77). Subs (not used): Lastuvka, C. Jensen, Radzinski.
CHELSEA (4-4-2): Cech; Geremi, Carvalho, Ferreira, A. Cole; Makelele, Essien, Lampard (Bridge 90), Robben (Kalou 57); Drogba, Shevchenko (Mikel 76). Subs (not used): Cudicini, S. Wright-Phillips.
BOOKED: Ricardo Carvalho.
GOALS: Lampard (pen 73, 80).
REFEREE: Mark Halsey (Lancashire).