Fulham vs. Chelsea: Score, Grades and Post-Match Reaction
Fulham had been much better at home recently, winning three of its last four matches at Craven Cottage. However, there was no advantage in this one, as Chelsea came out strong and never calmed down.
David Luiz started off the scoring in the first half with a fantastic goal in the 30th minute from 30 yards away. He took a pass from Eden Hazard and fired it into the top left corner, leaving the opposing keeper with no ability to defend it.
The EPL official Twitter account even questioned whether this was the goal of the year:
ASSIST Eden Hazard gets the assist for Chelsea's goal - but David Luiz had plenty of work to do! Contender for goal of the season? #FULCHE— Premier League (@premierleague) April 17, 2013
Chelsea's backline continued to impress on offense when John Terry was able to score on a header from Juan Mata to make it 2-0 in the 43rd minute.
This scored remained until the 71st minute, when Terry scored his second goal of the match. Fernando Torres had the initial header that might have gone in on its own, but the defenseman made sure it went into the back of the net with a touch right at the line.
While Fulham tried hard to get on the board toward the end of the match, they were unable to break through.
Who was the man of the match of Chelsea?
It was a huge victory for Chelsea to move ahead of Arsenal for the third-place spot in the EPL table. These two clubs, plus Tottenham Hotspur and Everton, are in a highly competitive battle for the final spots in next year's Champions League.
Considering the minimal amount of matches remaining on the year, every point is important, and the Blues earned three of them on Wednesday.
For Fulham, this match remains a continuation of a less-than-stellar season, especially on the defensive end. They struggled to keep points off the board and will remain a middle-of-the-pack club for the time being.
The group will hope to turn things around at home against Arsenal on Saturday, while Chelsea travels to face Liverpool on Sunday.
Juan Mata, Chelsea: A
The offense usually goes as Juan Mata goes, and things were working well on Wednesday.
He had an assist on a nice cross to Terry in the opening half, pulling ahead of Theo Walcott for the EPL lead with 11. The rest of the match was filled with solid control and accurate passing to give his side as many opportunities as possible.
Once the squad had the lead, he still stayed aggressive and kept the opponent on its heels throughout. It is hard to imagine where this group would be without him.
David Luiz, Chelsea: A
Although David Luiz is rarely a major part of the offense for Chelsea, he was easily responsible for the play of the match with a great goal from distance in the first half.
This was the defender's first score since December, but it gave his side the early advantage that was never relinquished.
In addition, he was solid on the defensive end and was a big reason why Fulham was unable to get many scoring opportunities. This was a solid all-around match for Luiz, and his steady play has been a big help for this squad.
John Terry deserves his recognition as well after two goals, but Luiz's one goal was more impressive than his teammate's two.
Dimitar Berbatov, Fulham: C
As Fulham's leading scorer, a lot of expectations are laid on Dimitar Berbatov's feet. Unfortunately, he was unable to live up to this against Chelsea.
His side did very little on the offensive end, and when the veteran finally touched the ball, he could not get off a good shot.
While this is always a team effort, Berbatov's inability to get anything going doomed Fulham in this one.
Fulham Midfield: F
Chelsea completely dominated the match by holding onto the ball and continually attacking, even with the lead. The group had tons of free space near the middle of the pitch and hardly challenged for the ball.
This allowed them to get open shots and passes from deep, and this contest ended in a hurry.
Bryan Ruiz, Giorgos Karagounis, Urby Emanuelson and Eyong Enoh struggled on both ends. They could not get the ball to the forwards on offense and allowed the opponent to do whatever it wanted.
It was a poor performance from the club's most important players.
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