Duff Strike Allows Blues To Dream (Sky Sports)
Chelsea 2 Fulham 1
Chelsea kept alive their faint title hopes with a hard-fought 2-1 win over Fulham at Stamford Bridge courtesy of goals from Eidur Gudjohnsen and Damien Duff.
The Blues were made to work all the way in a keenly-contested West London derby but were ultimately good value for a victory which keeps them within nine points of Arsenal.
The hosts were quick out of the traps and the ever-industrious Frank Lampard went close after a smart one-two with Gudjohnsen after just three minutes.
They did hit the front, however, shortly afterwards; Marcel Desailly fed Gudjohnsen midway inside the Fulham half and the Icelandic international cut inside on to his left foot and, as the Fulham defenders stood off him, unleashed a magnificent left-footed drive into the top corner from 25 yards.
'The Iceman' should have doubled the advantage five minutes later after the visitors failed to clear a Jesper Gronkjaer cross. Lampard was allowed to head into the path of Gudjohnsen but the striker leant back on his volley and ballooned over from just six yards.
Fulham were level on 20 minutes although there was more than a slice of fortune in their leveller. After Sean Davis was fouled on the edge of the box, Mark Pembridge saw his subsequent free-kick deflect off the wall and past the despairing dive of Marco Ambosio who could only help the ball into the net.
The goal was harsh on The Blues who had fully deserved their advantage, Damien Duff came close to restoring the lead shortly before the half hour mark but saw his near-post effort well saved by Edwin van der Sar.
The Republic of Ireland star was not to be denied two minutes later, though, and after van der Sar could only push Frank Lampard's long-range drive out to him, Duff sidestepped the block of Ian Pearce before drilling home from eight yards.
Gronkjaer had the chance to give Claudio Ranieri's men a cushion just before the break but forced himself wide after escaping down the inside right channel and could not beat van der Sar at his near post.
It was the mazy dribbling and cultured left foot of Duff which created the first chance of note of the second period, however from the former Blackburn star's floated cross Lampard blazed widely over.
Ranieri surprisingly chose to replace Duff with Joe Cole on 70 minutes, but the England midfielder almost made an instant impact striking a powerful shot straight at van der Sar after the ball had broken kindly on the edge of the box.
Fulham's best effort of the second half arrived courtesy of substitute Collins John ten minutes from time. Chelsea allowed the powerful hit-man to turn and strike narrowly over from 30 yards, but in truth the visitors will have been disappointed not to have further tested Ambrosio.
Desailly, Gallas, Terry, Duff (Cole 70), Geremi, Gronkjaer (Parker 45), Lampard,
Subs Not Used Sullivan, Huth, Mutu
Goals Gudjohnsen 7, Duff 30
der Sar, Bocanegra, Knight, Pearce, Volz, Davis, Legwinski, Malbranque,
Pembridge (John 62), Boa Morte, Hayles (McBride 77)
Subs Not Used Beasant, Djetou, Goma
Booked Legwinski, Boa Morte
Goals Pembridge 19
Neil Barry (Lincolnshire)