Sloppy Fulham fall to 3-0 defeat against Chelsea

Steve Bardens

A David Luiz wonder goal changed a game in which, originally, Fulham looked composed and elegant. In the end, Rafa Benitez's side needn't have left first gear.

There's a case to be made that the 3-0 defeat to the hands of Chelsea on Wednesday night was a harsh one. It's not the strongest case, but a judge would surely listen to its merits.

Fulham looked classy throughout various, lengthy portions of the first half and settled well into an intricate, delicate passing game.

Urby Emmanuelson in particular was brilliant and sharp, dashing up both wings with purpose and intensity. His ball skills were palpable too, especially given they have been previously well hidden since joining in January.

But it was David Luiz who truly stole the show. His strike, from goodness-knows-how-many yards out, set the tone for a match in which Fulham controlled possession, looked more lively, but were simply not clinical.

Chelsea were polar opposites. They created little in truth but finished off when they did. Juan Mata was his typical, creative self while Fernando Torres was also characteristic with his anonymity.

This is not to say Fulham were perfect - the scoreline can tell you that. The passing was sloppy and mistakes were at a premium, Phillipe Senderos adhering to his one game, (at least) one error tally. This time, it was somewhat more serious for the Swiss, though, as he gifted Chelsea their second and most important goal.

Fulham had carved out some worthy chances before Luiz popped up with his wonder strike with Emanuelson coming closest. The AC Milan loanee stormed up the pitch, delicately avoiding a myriad of Chelsea lunges. He eventually found himself barely a metre outside the Blues' penalty area and his subsequent right-footed effort forced Petr Cech into a good save.

Giorgos Karagounis, combative alongside a very strong Eyong Enoh, came close with a long range effort but an early period of Fulham dominance transitioned into something far less refined for the home side.

Rafa Benitez and his fatigued men were beginning to instill some class to the game and Luiz's effort soon followed. It was fairly indistinct in its build up but, once the defender opened his body up and struck the ball, it felt inevitable that it would find the net. The top left corner ruffled with the impact and Chelsea had an advantage they hadn't necessarily earned.

Fulham didn't seem overly deterred by the goal but Chelsea, being the top-four side that they are, hadn't left first gear before capturing their second. Senderos marked John Terry with nonchalance, allowing the defender five yards of space. That was all that was needed for him to nod the ball in.

In the second half, Martin Jol's men worsened, allowing their opponents more space, more time and more respect. Fulham themselves became impotent - creativity waning and, as if it were even possible, clinical edge fading further.

It's not like Chelsea exploited this, or grew into the game. They just maintained a cosy, uncomplicated level that became increasingly difficult to cope with. If anything, we looked the heavy-legged side while Chelsea played at a canter, barely breaking a sweat.

Terry had his second, and Chelsea's third, on 71 minutes, heading home from a Torres cross. It added unnecessary gloss to what was an average Chelsea performance.

Fulham continued to add light pressure well into the four minutes of added time at the end, but the incompetence with the final ball continued.

For, this was no exceptionally poor performance as a whole and yet, in many, infuriating parts, it was. The willingness to push Chelsea was hugely encouraging but, as we've come to learn with Fulham, execution isn't one of our strong points.

But, at the very least, there's always next year.

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