Chelsea Crush Cottagers (Sky Sports)
Fulham 1 Chelsea 4
Chelsea moved back to the top of The Premiership in emphatic style after crushing West London rivals Fulham 4-1 at Craven Cottage.
Jose Mourinho's men were full value for their triumph, and Dutch star Arjen Robben was once again the architect of their victory.
Although Fulham did manage to equalise Frank Lampard's first-half opener, the Blues stepped on the gas in the second half to end up convincing winners and reopen their two-point lead over Arsenal.
It was the hosts who had the first opportunity of the afternoon after just two minutes, Steed Malbranque blocked out on the edge of the box but the ball broke invitingly for Andy Cole who rasped a fine effort narrowly over the bar.
Sloppy defending from Ricardo Carvalho then allowed Mark Pembridge to sneak in and tee up Tomasz Radzinski, but the Canadian fired well over.
Chelsea responded by creating their first chance of the afternoon, a long throw from the right was allowed to run all the way to Lampard whose header from the penalty spot was well tipped wide by Mark Crossley.
John Terry then produced a charging run from deep inside his own half and bundled his way past Zat Knight to fashion a shooting opportunity, but as Crossley came out to meet him he lifted his effort over the keeper and well wide.
Robben served notice of his threat on the quarter hour mark, the Dutch winger motored past Knight on the outside and fired in a shot from 12 yards that Crossley kept out with his feet.
Robben created more danger just four minutes later again using his electric pace to outstrip Moritz Volz and pull back across the area for the onrushing Alexei Smertin, but the Russian dragged his shot wide.
In almost a carbon copy of the move, The Blues missed an even better chance to go ahead just sixty seconds later. Robben again embarrassed Volz with pace and pulled back perfectly into the path of Gudjohnsen, but he somehow fired wide from twelve yards out with the goal at his mercy.
Makelele found himself in referee Uriah Rennie's notebook on 25 minutes after bringing down the onrushing Luis Boa Morte just outside the area, but the hosts could not profit from the resulting free-kick.
The Blues hit the front on 34 minutes with a free-kick of their own. From fully 30 yards out, Lampard stepped up to unleash a thunderous effort that swerved viciously to leave Crossly stranded as it flew into the corner of the net.
Lampard was convinced he should have had the opportunity to put his side two up from the penalty spot on 41 minutes, but Rennie decided Zeshan Rehman's block on his shot was unintentional as the ball did seem to strike the defender's elbow.
The England midfielder was back in the thick of the action again on the stroke of half time, but was left infuriated when instead of being awarded a penalty he was booked for diving after being challenged by Volz.
Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech nearly handed Fulham a way back into the game on 50 minutes when he miscontrolled a Gallas back-pass and allowed the ball to roll to Steed Malbranque who saw his goalbound shot cleared by the retreating Terry.
The ever-dangerous Robben could have extended the lead five minutes later but, after being released by a cute pass from Gudjohnsen, the Dutchman could not find a way past Crossley from a tight angle.
It was always going to take something special to breach Chelsea's formidable backline, but it arrived after 57 minutes when Papa Bouba Diop latched on to a headed clearance 30 yards from goal and lashed home an unstoppable volley that arrowed into the bottom corner of Cech's goal.
However, parity was short-lived as Robben underlined his undoubted class just two minutes later. After collecting a poor defensive header from Pembridge, he danced into the area and sidestepped two desperate challenges before firing home under Crossley.
The Blues doubled their advantage on 73 minutes and it was no more than their domination merited.
Lampard swung over a free-kick from the right which eluded Bouba Diop allowing Gallas to stoop and nod home from six yards out.
Cech had to be on his mettle to tip over a dipping Malbranque shot, but Fulham's efforts were increasingly confined to pot-shots from range.
Three became four for the visitors on 82 minutes and again Robben was involved, this time the Dutchman provided a neat wall-pass for substitute Tiago who collected his return and strode into the box to fire across Crossley from 15 yards, and complete a fine afternoon for Mourinho's men.
Bocanegra, Knight, Rehman, Volz, Diop, Malbranque, Pembridge McBride
72), Boa Morte, Cole, Radzinski
Subs Not Used Van der Sar, Rosenior, Legwinski, Hammond
Goals Diop 57
Cech, Gallas, Ferreira, Carvalho, Terry, Duff (Kezman 76), Lampard,
Makelele, Smertin (Tiago 63), Gudjohnsen (Huth 83), Robben
Subs Not Used Cudicini, Bridge
Booked Makelele, Lampard
Goals Lampard 33, Robben 59, Gallas 73, Tiago 81
Referee U. Rennie
|Shots on target ( Inc Goals )||2||10|
|Shots off Target (inc woodwork)||5||5|
|Total Fouls Conceded||14||14|