Has anyone heard from the Carlos Vinicius doubters today? All the detractors who told us he was comparable to a League One or League Two striker seemed to have lost access to their keyboards. Football is a funny old game. The Brazilian was brilliant last night, run Chelsea’s creaking defence ragged, and headed the winning in the SW6 derby – guaranteeing that he’ll never need to be a beverage in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham again. His reward on Sunday at St. James’ Park will probably a spot on the bench as Aleksandar Mitrovic returns to the north east as well as coming back from suspension.

That last detail encapsulates why finding further forwards will always be difficult for Fulham. Marco Silva’s most pressing task on taking over at Craven Cottage was convincing Mitrovic, who had one foot out the door after being jettisoned by Scott Parker, to stick around. Building the team around a number one who was considered a flat track bully has probably worked out far better than Silva and his Motspur Park brains trust could ever have envisaged. When the number nine looms so large, appearing as the understudy might be daunting – and it will certainly impact upon the calibre of player Fulham can attract. The substitutes bench is still the substitutes bench, wherever you are playing on a Sunday morning or in the Premier League.

Vinicius hadn’t had the most auspicious of starts and hardly pulled up any trees on loan with Tottenham a couple of seasons ago. He did, at least, have the experience of being a back-up for Harry Kane. But he did visibly unsettle Manchester United the longer Fulham’s final league fixture before the World Cup went on and it was clear from the way he led the line against Wembley in a friendly last month that a period of working at close quarters with Silva and his coaches had done the former Benfica forward the world of good.

Doing it on the big stage against Fulham’s bitterest rivals was still a tough assignment, especially as his every move would be compared to Mitrovic. Vinicius, who relished his battle with Chelsea’s three centre backs, warmed to the task early. He chased down the blue shirts with unrelenting energy and seized upon a mistake from Thiago Silva to set up Bobby Decordova-Reid for the chance that the Jamaican banged against the crossbar. Towards the end of the first half, with the Whites a goal to the good, Vinicius almost prodded in a second from a looping Kenny Tete cross. But the best was yet to come.

Strikers are judged on goals. Vinicius had only scored previously against the Hammers in a glorified training game. But his movement to the near post to find the net that day showed an intelligence that some centre forwards lack. His clever dart between Khalid Koulibaly and Thiago Silva put the Brazilian in the perfect place to profit both from Andreas Pereira’s cross and more calamitous goalkeeping from Kepa. It was the sort of headed goal that Mitrovic would have been proud of – and the Serbian leapt to his feet in approval on the Cottage balcony.

Vinicius may never score another Fulham goal. He doesn’t have to. His place in Fulham folklore is assured next to the man he embraced warmly after the final whistle: Luis Boa Morte. The last man to score a winner in the SW6 derby is now Silva’s loyal lieutenant and his influence on this stylish side – now up to sixth in the table – is unmistakeable. The symmetry was stunning. Last night will always belong to Carlos: who came up trumps just when opportunity knocked.