Chelsea Take Derby Honours  (Sky Sports)

Chelsea 3 Fulham 1

Nicolas AnelkaChelsea emerged 3-1 winners from a pulsating West London derby with Fulham at Stamford Bridge.

A goal from Nicolas Anelka within 50 seconds got the scoring underway before Erik Nevland equalised, only to see Florent Malouda restore the lead and Didier Drogba complete the scoring early in the second half.

Compared to their defensive set-up in midweek, Chelsea were a distinctly different prospect against their London neighbours, putting together a display full of delightful flowing moves, while Fulham themselves brightened the occasion with some fine one-touch football of their own.

For Chelsea, the win will serve to exert further pressure on Liverpool in the race for second place, although it remains to be seen whether fielding an almost full-strength team was wise with the UEFA Champions League tie with Barcelona on the horizon.

Fulham meanwhile will be forced to reassess their chances of securing Europa League football for next season, and will require a swift recovery if they are to keep up the challenge.

Early drama

The contest began in dramatic fashion with three goals inside the first 10 minutes.

The Blues opened the scoring inside the minute mark as Malouda and Anelka combined down the left before Malouda's cross was stabbed into the path of Anelka to finish.

But Fulham hit back immediately and were level in the fifth minute.

Norwegian striker Erik Nevland scored his second goal in as many games when he ran onto a great pass by Danny Murphy to beat Petr Cech with a fierce angled drive.

Two minutes later Frank Lampard was narrowly wide with a clever chip shot as Chelsea looked to restore their advantage.

But the home side were back in front in the 10th minute when Anelka fed Drogba inside the penalty area and his low cross was lashed into the net by Florent Malouda.

Despite the deficit, Fulham were still dangerous on the counter and Nevland smashed an 18-yard volley just over the bar in the 14th minute.

Moments later a cross from Paul Konchesky found the head of Bobby Zamora but the Fulham striker's effort was just wide of Cech's right-hand upright.

Disallowed effort

Chelsea's Drogba then had a goal ruled out for offside but TV replays clearly showed that the Ivorian was onside and the goal should have counted.

Drogba felt he should have earned a penalty in the 29th minute when he went down in the area under a challenge from Konchesky, but referee Alan Wiley rejected Chelsea's appeals.

And moments later Drogba was fouled by John Pantsil only for Lampard to send the free-kick into the second tier of the Shed end.

Fulham were dealt another blow to their attack in the 35th minute when goalscorer Nevland succumbed to a knock on his knee and was replaced by Diomansy Kamara.

As the half drew to a close, Aaron Hughes saved Fulham from falling further behind when he half-blocked a shot from Lampard which then grazed the outside of the post.

Blues extend lead

Chelsea made two changes at the break with Michael Ballack replacing Michael Essien in midfield and Branislav Ivanovic coming on for Alex in the centre of defence.

And the Blues then proceeded to make it 3-1 in the 53rd minute with a superb counter-attack that was finished by Drogba.

Anelka broke clear on the right flank and slipped a perfect ball into the path of the Ivorian who took one touch before slotting the ball beyond the advancing Mark Schwarzer.

The result seemed secure, but with Barcelona now in mind Chelsea were given an injury scare in the 55th minute when Drogba collided awkwardly with Pantsil on the edge of the Fulham penalty area.

The striker was eventually declared fit enough to carry on and play resumed from a free-kick earned by Malouda on the edge of the penalty box.

Lampard's ensuing strike was tipped over the crossbar by Schwarzer before Drogba was given a relieved and rousing reception as he returned to the fray.

Fulham had begun to lose their shape as they chased the game and Chelsea were able to break out at will.

Drogba almost made it four in the 68th minute but he could only turn Anelka's right-wing cross wide of the near post.

The home side continued to dominate and Ballack went close with a close-range header that finished on top of the net.

In the 88th minute Mikel was just wide with a 25-yard rising drive but Chelsea had done enough to run out comfortable winners.


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Chelsea  Cech, A. Cole, Alex (Ivanovic 46), Terry, Bosingwa, Mikel, Essien (Ballack 46), Lampard, Malouda, Drogba (Di Santo 84), Anelka
Subs Not Used  Hilario, Kalou, Mancienne
Goals  Anelka 1, Malouda 10, Drogba 53

Fulham  Schwarzer, Pantsil, Hughes, Hangeland, Konchesky, Dempsey, Etuhu, Murphy, Gera, Zamora (Dacourt 76), Nevland (Kamara 35)
Subs Not Used Zuberbuhler, Gray, Stoor, Baird, Smalling
Booked  Murphy
Goals  Nevland 4

Attendance 41,801

Referee A. Wiley

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