A brace from captain John Terry added to a stunning first-half strike from David Luiz to give Chelsea a comfortable 3-0 win over west London neighbors Fulham at Craven Cottage on Wednesday.
After exiting the FA Cup in the semifinals to Manchester City on Sunday, Chelsea rebounded well to go back above Arsenal into third place in the Premier League and still with a game in hand in the battle for a Champions League place. Chelsea lead the Gunners by a point and fifth-placed Tottenham by three.
Fulham, with little tangible to play for this season having all-but secured their Premier League status, actually started the brighter on the night. They may well have taken the lead too but Costa Rican Bryan Ruiz struck an effort over the bar.
It was to prove a costly miss when, with 30 minutes on the clock, David Luiz decisively changed the match’s momentum with a thunderous goal. On his 100th appearance for Chelsea, the Brazilian defender picked up the ball 40 yards out, stepped into space and then unleashed a venomous swerving effort that soared into the top corner of the net to leave Mark Schwarzer with no chance in the Fulham goal.
And the contest was effectively ended when John Terry doubled the visitors’ lead two minutes before the break. Philippe Senderos misjudged a quality whipped in cross from Juan Mata, allowing John Terry to arrive round the back and head into the net from six yards.
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It was a similar scenario that wrapped-up Chelsea’s victory with 19 minutes remaining. Fernando Torres got to a near-post corner first and flicked a header toward goal that Terry ensured found the net by meeting it from barely a yard out.
Chelsea next meet manager Rafael Benitez's former club Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday, while Fulham will host Arsenal a day earlier.