The Chelsea captain hit a brace as his side ran out 3-0 winners in their derby clash at Craven Cottage - but could still find himself relegated to the substitutes bench against Liverpool.
John Terry states case for Chelsea's defense with double against Fulham
Fulham 0 Chelsea 3
Chelsea: Luiz 30', Terry 43', 71'
John Terry found the net twice to help guide Chelsea back above Arsenal in the English Premier League, but interim manager Rafael Benitez warned his captain it may still not be enough to guarantee a start against Liverpool.
The 32-year-old was an unused substitute in Sunday's FA Cup semi-final defeat to Manchester City but returned to the starting line-up at Craven Cottage, where he nodded home either side of half-time.
Terry's headers complemented David Luiz's exquisite long-range opener in a 3-0 win, which moves Chelsea back up to third in the Barclays Premier League.
Benitez's side are now in pole position for the third automatic Champions League qualifying place with six games remaining - although that fixture list includes matches with Manchester United, Tottenham, Everton and this weekend's trip to his former club Liverpool.
And that could be a match in which Terry finds himself back on the bench as the Spaniard juggles domestic and European exertions.
"He has to be happy, scoring goals," Benitez said. "Everyone is.
"It's good for him and the team. I'm really pleased because it was a good performance.
"I prefer these problems [of whether to leave him out]. I told the players before it is important that they have to be ready.
"We have eight or nine games to play and everyone has to be on his toes and ready to play and perform.
"We will try to stay in the top three and we have the Europa League as well. We want to compete in both competitions.
"We had some confidence and today we knew this was a derby and we had to do well, but we were ready.
"Three goals, a clean sheet and the way we played in the second half was really pleasing so there are a lot of positives today."
Asked if it was hard for Terry being captain but only playing every so often, Benitez added: "I think the most important thing is the team.
"They know the most important thing is the team is winning. I'm really pleased with his performance but at the end of the day the team has to be winning.
"We have been playing two games a week for four or five months, so it's not easy keeping the players focused, concentrated and not tired.
"We have to keep them ready for every game. Every player wants to play every game, but they have to realise they can't do that and be 100 per cent in each game.".
A Sascha Riether cross in behind Terry and Luiz gave the hosts an opportunity for a fast start, but Ruiz could only divert the ball over from close range.
Frank Lampard's first chance to score for the first time in a month - since his 200th Blues goal came against his former club West Ham - came in the ninth minute after Brede Hangeland sliced an attempted clearance.
Fernando Torres had the presence of mind to head the ball behind him and Lampard hooked the ball towards goal, but Mark Schwarzer saved comfortably.
It was part of a sustained period of possession for Chelsea, but then it was Fulham's turn to apply pressure.
After Branislav Ivanovic was booked for a two-footed foul on Mladen Petric, Dimitar Berbatov had a shot deflected wide, Giorgios Karagounis fired narrowly over and John Arne Riise fluffed a chance.
The visitors then took the lead against the run of play when Luiz found himself in space and unleashed an unstoppable long-range strike which soared into the top corner.
It was the Brazil defender's fifth goal of the season as he celebrated his 100th appearance at the ground where he made his full debut for the Blues.
Fulham had further opportunities, with Berbatov and Urby Emanuelson at the heart of much of their good work.
Berbatov shot wide before another long-range Chelsea shot had Fulham in trouble.
This time Schwarzer could only parry Lampard's swerving free kick from 40 yards and from the resulting corner the Fulham goalkeeper was beaten for a second time.
Chelsea played the set-piece short and Juan Mata crossed to the back post where Terry headed in.
Terry was relieved to see referee Mike Dean rule in his favour as Ruiz was booked for diving when going by the Blues defender in the box.
Fulham came out with purpose in the second half, but their luck deserted them when Giorgos Karagounis whipped in a corner and Philippe Senderos saw his header blocked at the back post by Petric.
Moments later, after Schwarzer had turned a Victor Moses shot around the post, Chelsea had their third.
Mata's corner was met by Torres, whose powerful header was helped in by Terry ahead of the covering defender.
Terry pointed to Torres in celebration, but it was his goal and his night as Chelsea triumphed.
For Fulham it was a case of what could have been after a bright start fizzled out following Luiz's wonder strike.
"The first 30 minutes I thought our possession game was good," Martin Jol, the Fulham coach, admitted afterwards.
"We played the four attacking players and had a good go at them. They're a strong team.
"If you see the players they brought back into the team - Terry, for example, scored two goals.
"It is a fantastic team, but it is still disappointing we could not capitalise on the first 30 minutes.
"The frustration was playing well for the first half-hour, creating three or four chances from the first minute when Ruiz could have scored, and then conceding when we didn't concede Luiz down.
"Their two defenders scored three goals. That tells you all."
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