Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 16 June 2019

Chelsea win lively London derby as Scott Parker sees size of Fulham task

Higuain opened the scoring at Craven Cottage before Chambers equalised for Fulham, leaving Jorginho to step up as the match-winner for Chelsea

Chelsea's Jorginho celebrates scoring their second goal in a 2-1 win against Fulham. Reuters
Chelsea's Jorginho celebrates scoring their second goal in a 2-1 win against Fulham. Reuters

First-half goals from Gonzalo Higuain and Jorginho earned Chelsea a 2-1 win over struggling Fulham in an entertaining Southwest London Premier League derby on Sunday but they had to work hard for the points.

On-loan Argentine striker Higuain volleyed home Chelsea's first after a perfectly-timed run on to a 21st-minute cross by Cesar Azpilicueta overlapping with Willian down the right.

Yet barely six minutes later Craven Cottage erupted when Calum Chambers drifted unmarked to the back post and scored from a Ryan Babel cross following a corner. Fulham's players rushed to celebrate with new interim manager Scott Parker.

It was Parker's first game in charge following the sacking of Claudio Ranieri, a former Chelsea manager, after less than four months in charge.

The jubilation was short-lived. Brazilian Jorginho put Chelsea back in front in the 31st minute, thumping in a cut-back ball by Eden Hazard from outside the area.

Fulham were fuming, believing Jorginho fouled Joe Bryan earlier in the move, but referee Graham Scott ignored the complaints. It was Italy international Jorginho's second goal for Chelsea, following his penalty on the opening day of the season at Huddersfield Town.

Winning manager Maurizio Sarri said his players were forced to hang on in the final quarter and put the Blues' inability to kill the game off down to fatigue.

"We played very well only for 60 minutes," Sarri said. "We could have killed the match, but we were not able to do so. In the last 20 or 25 minutes we were in trouble because we were very tired mentally and physically after 120 minutes against Manchester City and a strong match against Tottenham. But I am really very happy with the performance for 60 minutes and the result."

Chelsea's Kepa Arrizabalaga was back in goal after being dropped in midweek over his refusal to be substituted during last Sunday's League Cup final. He had to deal with a swirling wind off the Thames river and make a series of sharp saves from Aleksandar Mitrovic, Tom Cairney, Ryan Sessegnon and Joe Bryan. "Kepa is a man. He understood the mistake so he was able to react very well," Sarri said.

Fulham were on top for significant periods of the second half and had a goal disallowed for offside but the result kept them 19th, 10 points from the safety zone while Chelsea stayed sixth but moved to within a point of fifth-placed Arsenal.

Parker represented both Chelsea and Fulham during a distinguished playing career and admitted his first outing as a top-flight manager was a "rollercoaster for me on the sidelines".

He added: "In the first half we felt stung against a very good side. We didn't put our stamp on the game in possession. That was a big focus for us. In the second half we did do that.

"The most important thing was we showed character. We showed character with the ball; not just running hard - that is a standard. Our centre-halves got the ball and played. This is the way Fulham play and the way I want my team to play.

"I am thinking long term in the best interests of Fulham Football Club. I will treat this as long term because I want to help this club."

Updated: March 3, 2019 08:57 PM

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