Chelsea 2-0 Fulham: Blues at the double as Loftus-Cheek seals derby spoils
Photo: Justin Setterfield / Getty Images

Chelsea 2-0 Fulham: Blues at the double as Loftus-Cheek seals derby spoils

Goals from Pedro and Ruben Loftus-Cheek seal the points in competitive west London derby against Fulham, and former boss Claudio Ranieri at Stamford Bridge.

Neil Leverett
chelsea-fcArrizabalaga; Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Luiz, Alonso (Zappacosta 78'); Kante, Jorginho, Kovacic (Loftus-Cheek 67'); Pedro, Giroud (Morata 70'), Hazard
fulham-fcRico; Christie, Odoi, Mawson, Le Marchand; Johansen (Ayite 45'), Chambers, Seri; Cairney (Kebano 76'), Mitrovic, Sessegnon (Kamara 45')
SCOREPedro (4'), Loftus-Cheek (82')
INCIDENTSPremier League clash between Chelsea and Fulham at Stamford Bridge, London, UK.

A second half strike from substitute Ruben Loftus-Cheek, built on Pedro's fourth-minute goal for Chelsea, as the Blues beat Fulham 2-0 in the west London derby at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League.

After the visitor's stopper Sergio Rico kept the Cottagers in the contest for large periods, Maurizio Sarri's men had number one Kepa Arrizabalaga to thank for number of smart saves, as Fulham poured forward after the interval.

The win sees the Blues bounce back from last weekend's London derby defeat to Tottenham Hotspur, whilst Claudio Ranieri is brought back down to earth following victory in his first game as Craven Cottage steward.

Blues light the touch paper early

Fresh from a 4-0 drubbing of PAOK in the UEFA Europa League on Thursday, the hosts were still driven buy their goal-scoring exploits against the Greek side, indeed it took just four minutes for the Blues to open the scoring.

After N'Golo Kante pounced on uncertainty in the midfield by Jean Michaël Seri, the Frenchman raced into clear space towards the Fulham penalty area. With Pedro scampering to his right, Kante fed the Spaniard, who raced in, cut inside and coolly took the ball around Sergio Rico and slotted into the far corner to give the Blues the lead.

The Cottagers were struggling to get to grips with Chelsea's fluid movement early on, and were on a number of occasions thankful for the on-loan Sevilla stopper.  

With the visitors guilty of conceding possession frequently, Cesar Azpilicueta's smart run and cut across the box found the outstretched boot of Olivier Giroud, forcing Rico into a sharp save.

As yet, Eden Hazard had failed to stamp his customary mark on the game, but continued to provide a headache for the visitors midfield, spraying passes to Giroud as Chelsea sought to double their lead. 

Fulham were beginning to find their feet as the opening half wore on forcing a flurry of corners, but as the whistle went for the break, Maurizio Sarri's men where in control.

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Ranieri rings the changes 

On resumption, the Blues continued their first-half domination and when Pedro again stung the palms of the Fulham stopper again four minutes into the second period, it looked set to be another half of chasing shadows for the Cottagers.

Having made a double change at half-time as both Ryan Sessegnon and Stefan Johansen got the hook, Fulham however began to creep their way into proceedings. Floyd Ayite was giving the visiting side a greater share of the ball whilst Aboubakar Kamara was making the difference for Ranieri's men, finding space down the right flank, with Antonio Rudiger's vital sliding interception preventing a certain leveler for the men in white approaching the hour-mark.

With Calum Chambers being deployed in more advanced midfield berth, the Arsenal loanee was also grabbing the game with both hands. Indeed, in the 65th-minute the versatile defender cracked a swerving effort from the edge of the box - again after smart work from Kamara - forcing Kepa Arrizabalaga into a diving stop to his right, the first of a number of interventions from Chelsea's world-record-signing number one.

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Loftus-Cheek seals Blues win

With Chelsea looking somewhat nervous, full-back Davide Zappacosta forced the usually rock-solid Marcos Alonso off the field due to Kamara's strength and speed, as Loftus-Cheek replaced Mateo Kovacic. The England international made the desired impact.

This time Hazard was instrumental, as the Belgian sauntered through a bewildered Fulham defence. Exchanging passes with Alvaro Morata on the edge of the area, Loftus-Cheek peeled away to the right-hand side of the 18-yard box, composed himself and fired into the gaping net to give the hosts a healthy 2-0 lead.

The Cottagers continued to huff and puff and again made Kepa into comfortable saves, but the second goal had taken the wind from the Fulham sails as the Blues eased to a derby win.

As another hectic festive schedule looms for both sides, Sarri's men now travel to Wolves on Wednesday, whilst Fulham entertain Leicester City, looking to climb the table.