Clint Dempsey was delighted to grab the equaliser as Fulham held Chelsea to a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge this afternoon.
The American midfielder was on hand to turn in a fine cross from Bryan Ruiz from close range to cancel out Juan Mata’s strike just seconds after the restart. Dempsey, a regular scorer in this fixture, told Sky Sports he was pleased with his goal but also reserved words of praise for Fulham’s character, team performance and a splendid goalkeeping display from David Stockdale.
It’s always good to get a goal against your local rivals and always good to get a goal against a top team like Chelsea. It was a great ball in from Bryan Ruiz, I just tried to be in the right place at the right time and was able to finish it off.
I thought we deserved the point. I thought we defended well, showed a lot of heart and the keeper made some big saves for us. We still had to pick and choose our moments when we got forward but coming from 1-0 down to get the equaliser and then battling the way we did, I felt that we did deserve a point at the end of it all. We held out well under some real pressure in the last ten minutes.
Fulham’s spirit was all the more impressive as their heads didn’t appear to drop once Mata had given Chelsea the lead. Coming so soon after half time, the goal might have been devastating for Martin Jol’s side but the concession of the goal actually sparked Fulham’s best period of the game.
You don’t want to concede goals in the first few minutes, whether it’s the first half or the second half because it kind of kills you. We did a good job of bouncing back. They put a lot of pressure on us early and I think that’s the reason why they were able to create the chances they did but I thought we showed a lot of character, I thought we moved the ball well and chose our moments to get forward and take advantage of the opportunities we did get.
Dempsey also felt Fulham’s defensive effort was laudable following Jol’s decision to change the side’s shape and select an adventurous looking line-up. Moussa Dembele was pressed into a deeper midfield role with Orlando Sa up front on his own and the Texan confirmed that the team had worked hard on their shape during training.
We have a lot of injuries but we’ve worked on our shape and how to get the right balance in attack and also keeping it compact in the middle and getting our screens on as well as moving off the ball for each other and keeping possession. I thought we did good with that and once we get everybody fit we need to push on.
The point was the perfect tonic after the 5-0 thrashing by Manchester United just a couple of days before Christmas.
It’s always frustrating to lose, but to lose in the fashion we did it hurts even worse but you just have to dig deep and show character and bounce back from it. Today, getting the draw almost felt like a win for us and it’s lifted the spirits of the boys. Sometimes [being underestimated] is a good position to be in, to be an underdog and people will write you off, you have nothing to lose and it’s easy to go and play as hard as you can and sometimes it goes for you, sometimes it don’t. We didn’t have anything to lose but I thought we showed quality here today and were deserving of the point.