Kai Havertz produced a clinical display to boost Chelsea’s top four hopes and leave Fulham with a mountain to climb to beat the drop.
Fresh off Brighton’s vital victory over Leeds, the pressure was on Fulham to respond in kind. Antonee Robinson came close to handing the visitors a dream start, but Edouard Mendy was on hand to tip his rifled effort behind for a corner.
Chelsea soon settled and took the lead in the tenth minute through Kai Havertz.
A long ball forward was plucked from the sky by Mason Mount. The in-form midfielder carved Fulham’s backline open with a defence-splitting pass before Havertz rounded out the move with a clinical finish.
Chances began to flow at either end with both sides seeking three points for their varying Premier League objectives.
Mendy again sprung into action topreserve his side’s lead, this time getting down quickly to paw an Ademola Lookman drive to safety after Chelsea struggled to clear their lines from a corner.
Fulham’s exuberance left the back door open, and Chelsea nearly walked straight through with a lightning quick counter.
Timo Werner broke free down the right after possession was surrendered in midfield. The German’s cutback to Hakim Ziyech was accurate, but Alphonse Areola predicted where the winger would aim, diving to his left to repel the Moroccan’s strike.
The man of the half was undoubtedly Mendy, who for a third time produced a moment of brilliance when adjusting his feet quickly to deny Ola Aina’s deflected shot.
Any chances of a Fulham fightback wer quickly dashed after the break with Havertz and fellow German Werner combined to devastating effect.
Werner completed a one-two to put Havertz in behind the backline before calmly slotting past the stricken Areola.
The young German again showed his class just after the hour mark, deftly controlling a ball over the top before seeing his resulting effort blocked. The offside flag would’ve ruled out a potential hattrick goal, but ex-Leverkusen man was having justifying his lofty price tag with every involvement.
Fulham’s resistance was waning as the game neared its conclusion. As such, Thomas Tuchel saw fit to introduce the rarely seen Tammy Abraham after Mason Mount suffered a knock.
The final stages saw little in the way of goalmouth action as Chelsea controlled the tempo to frustrate their opponents.
The victory strengthens Chelsea’s grasp on the Champions League places, while Fulham trail 17th-placed Newcastle by nine points with just four matches remaining.