Lamps Seals Blues Victory (Sky Sports)

Fulham 0 Chelsea 2

Claude Makelele in action against FulhamA late Frank Lampard brace secured a 2-0 victory for Chelsea over Fulham.

With Manchester United playing in the evening game, The Blues returned to the top of the table for a couple of hours at least with a typically professional performance, although it was anything but easy against a spirited Fulham side.

Indeed, had it not been for a contentious penalty decision deep into the second half, Fulham looked good value for at least a point.

Chelsea set out to stamp their authority on the game early on, having lost 1-0 to Fulham in a badly tempered clash at Craven Cottage back in March.

Frank Lampard smashed a 35-yard free kick just over the crossbar just a few minutes in, before Didier Drogba dragged another long-range effort wide as Chelsea seized control of midfield.

With no John Terry at the back though, The Blues looked uncharacteristically vulnerable at the back, and they could have been caught out if Collins John's first touch had been better when released through the centre.

Wayne Routledge then stung the palms of Petr Cech with a curling shot from the right after Chelsea had failed to clear his initial cross.

Arjen Robben, recovered from injury and adding width down the left, almost celebrated his return to the first team with a sensational goal on the half hour mark, but his swerving strike from 30 yards rattled the bar and ricocheted to safety.

Chelsea's driving force was once again Michael Essien, and the Ghanaian drew a fine save from Antti Niemi after a strong run from midfield.

Geremi also came close to breaking the deadlock, drilling a shot from the edge of the area just wide of the post following a cleverly worked free kick from Frank Lampard.

Fulham, meanwhile, were resolute in defence, clearly determined to continue their good start to The Premiership after the shock Carling Cup defeat to Wycombe in midweek.

The Cottagers failed to carve out any significant opportunities in the opening 45 minutes, but some of their football was pleasing on the eye and their tireless efforts to close down Chelsea players were admirable.

Five minutes into the second half Michael Brown thought he had won a penalty for Fulham after challenging for the ball with Cech.

The goalkeeper did appear to bring Brown down, but only after the midfielder had lunged in too aggressively to force Cech to spill possession.

The incident proved to be a sign of things to some, as the game became more and more physical, with John the recipient of one particularly heavy challenge from Ricardo Carvalho towards the left-hand touchline.

From the resultant free kick Papa Bouba Diop missed a gilt-edged chance to put Fulham in front, as he did not manage to make meaningful contact with a free header just yards from goal.

Chelsea were visibly rattled by the home side's determination, but they weathered the storm and started to regain their command.

Substitute Salomon Kalou was an influential figure in their resurgence, and he quickly set up a chance a chance for the hitherto anonymous Andrei Shevchenko. The Ukrainian's strike was well stopped by Niemi, and Drogba could only miss-hit the rebound against the top of the woodwork.

In the 73rd minute Chelsea finally managed to take the lead, when a penalty was awarded against Liam Rosenior for handball. The defender slipped as he struggled to get to grips with Kalou in the area, but any contact with the arm looked minimal and unintentional.

In the absence of Michael Ballack, Lampard stepped up take the spot-kick, and he took a leaf out of the German's book with a ferocious penalty struck into the roof of the net.

Jose Mourinho's side doubled their advantage just seven minutes later, but in the intervening period there was moment of anxiety when Franck Queudrue's surprise shot from wide on the left almost caught Cech unawares.

It was Lampard again who netted Chelsea's second, rounding off a flowing move involving Essien and Drogba with a coolly placed low shot into the bottom corner from the edge of the area.

The fight somewhat left Fulham in the last ten minutes, and Chelsea comfortably held on to their 2-0 cushion to take the bragging rights in West London


Fulham Niemi, Knight, Pearce, Queudrue, Rosenior, Bocanegra (Helguson 77), Bouba Diop, Routledge, Volz, Brown, John (McBride 77)
Subs Not Used Lastuvka, Jensen, Radzinski
Booked  Volz, Queudrue

Chelsea  Cech, A. Cole, Geremi, Ferreira, Carvalho, Essien, Lampard (Bridge 90), Makelele, Drogba, Robben (Kalou 57), Shevchenko (Mikel 76)
Subs Not Used  Cudicini, Wright-Phillips
Booked  Carvalho
Goals  Lampard 2 (1 pen) 73, 80

Attendance  24,290

Referee  M. Halsey

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