Chelsea edged past Fulham with a 1-0 victory at Craven Cottage, but they were made to work hard by the hosts, who played the entire second half with only ten men.
The two teams battled fiercely in the first half, with Ivan Cavaleiro having the best chance, mis-kicking and skewing a shot wide when left unmarked eight yards from goal.
The half exploded into life in the final minutes however, when Antonee Robinson was sent off for a dangerous, lunging challenge on Cesar Azpilicueta, leaving the Whites in the lurch for the second half.
Chelsea dominated the second period against the ten men of Fulham, with substitute Tammy Abraham missing a great chance to break the deadlock minutes after entering the pitch. Frank Lampard’s men finally got their breakthrough on 78 minutes, when Alphonse Areola flapped at Ben Chilwell’s cross, and Mason Mount drilled home the winning goal to relieve the pressure on his under-fire boss.
Let’s take a look at the player ratings from a tense 90 minutes at Craven Cottage.
Alphonse Areola (GK) – 5/10 – Not seriously tested in the first half, but dealt with any minor threats comfortably. Gave the game away with a huge flap at Chilwell’s cross, and Mount punished the shot-stopper.
Ola Aina (CB) – 7/10 – Extremely versatile player. Sat in at centre-back, helped out at right-back and moved to the left when his manager called upon him. Loves a driving run forward from that full-back role.
Joachim Andersen (CB) – 7/10 – Enjoyed a lovely tussle with Giroud, constantly battling and scrapping with the experienced Frenchman. Led the defence, especially in hard times when Chelsea put the pressure on. Will be gutted to lose this one.
Tosin Adarabioyo (CB) – 7/10 – Growing in confidence in this Fulham team. Showed his comfort on the ball, while listening and learning from Andersen at his side. Repelled everything that came his way.
Kenny Tete (RWB) – 7/10 – An energetic, determined display. Picked out Cavaleiro for what should have been the opening goal of the game. Nullified Pulisic out wide with his dogged defending.
Bobby Reid (CM) – 6/10 – Moved to a wider position in the second half as Parker shuffled his pack. Struggled to affect the game going forward, so offered solidity and reliability to his teammates.
Harrison Reed (CM) – 8/10 – Pressed, hustled and harried in the centre of the park, giving Jorginho little time to set any sort of tempo. Constantly growing in this team.
Andre Anguissa (CM) – 7/10 – A driving force in midfield, carrying the ball with pace and power. Excellent without the ball at his feet too, sticking to his task and giving Chelsea’s men little joy.
Antonee Robinson (LWB) – 5/10 – An excellent first half display was marred by his reckless challenge, which saw him handed his marching orders. Needless, and costly.
Ivan Cavaleiro (ST) – 5/10 – Missed a proper sitter on 40 minutes, mis-kicking so badly that the ball hit his standing foot rather than the swinger. That’s why Fulham desperately need a striker.
Ademola Lookman (ST) – 6/10 – Produced some nice link up play to bring in his teammates down that left-hand side. Put the graft in out wide when down to ten men.
Josh Onomah (CM) – 6/10
Joe Bryan (LB) – 6/10
Aboubakar Kamara (ST) – 5/10
Edouard Mendy (GK) – 6/10 – Had very little to do in the first half, as Fulham failed to test the Frenchman. He was even less tested in the second, with the hosts digging in with ten men.
Cesar Azpilicueta (RB) – 7/10 – Tasked with keeping up with the pacy Robinson on the left flank. Used his experience and knowhow to good effect. Survived the American’s wild challenge to fight another day.
Thiago Silva (CB) – 7/10 – Caught too high up the pitch by Fulham’s movement on a couple of occasions, and didn’t have the legs to get back into position. Helped kickstart attacks and pushed up the pitch with the ball.
Antonio Rudiger (CB) – 6/10 – Few stray passes which plagued his game, and could have been punished on another day. Had little defending to do in the second half.
Ben Chilwell (LB) – 8/10 – A big part of Chelsea’s attacking threat, overlapping and looking to cross at every opportunity. Provided the ball which led to Mount’s winner. Big player for the Blues.
Mateo Kovacic (CM) – 6/10 – Offered little in either final third of the pitch, and quality was lacking in the middle, too. Drove forward a little more in the second half.
Jorginho (CM) – 7/10 – Was not allowed the time he needed to play the game in the first half, but thrived when Fulham were reduced to ten men. Played far more vertically and added some required urgency to the performance. Subbed as Lampard went for the win.
Mason Mount (CM) – 8/10 – Looked to float around and cause problems. Grew in influence in the second half, twisting and turning in the box to almost assist Giroud. Saved Lampard’s skin with his drilled finish – a massive goal for the Blues.
Hakim Ziyech (RW) – 6/10 – Stung Areola’s palms with a nice drive from the edge of the box. Created some panic with his wicked crosses. Not much else.
Olivier Giroud (ST) – 5/10 – Entrusted to lead the line, but not one of his better performances. Struggled to take up his usual goalscoring positions in the penalty area.
Christian Pulisic (LW) – 5/10 – Another below par display from the winger. Couldn’t get into dangerous areas, and his teammates had a hard time finding him. Another blank.
Tammy Abraham (ST) – 6/10
Callum Hudson-Odoi (RW) – 7/10
Timo Werner (ST) – 5/10