Mason Mount’s half-volley in the second half proved enough as Chelsea ground out a 1-0 win against 10-man Fulham at Craven Cottage.
Despite a goalless first half, the visitors had the best chances and they gained the numerical advantage with Antonee Robinson’s red card just before half time.
To their credit, Fulham showed resistance against the subsequent waves of Blues attacks in the second half but Mount broke their resistance with his half-volley.
Fulham started better, showing the same energy as in their 1-1 draw with Liverpool. But while Chelsea struggled early on, the hosts could not take advantage.
The Blues did grow into the game and had a flurry of chances before the half-hour mark.
Cottagers goalkeeper Alphonse Areola made a few good saves in response, keeping Olivier Giroud‘s swerving first-time shot out before palming Antonio Rudiger’s away.
Meanwhile, Mason Mount, who had combined with Giroud, hit the bar after Robinson’s failed clearance.
But despite Chelsea’s dominance, Fulham did have good openings, their best – after 41 minutes – being wasted by Ivan Cavaliero.
Robinson drove down the left after a neat backheel from Ademola Lookman, before Kenny Tete found Cavaliero unmarked in the box, but the forward’s effort was over.
Fulham go down to 10 men
However, if Fulham thought that was the defining moment towards the end of the first half, they were wrong.
Robinson received a red card after 44 minutes after going out of control into a challenge with Cesar Azpilicueta.
With the extra man, Chelsea dominated the second half.
Giroud and Thiago Silva missed headers, before substitute Tammy Abraham also had a headed effort stopped by Areola.
Fulham did venture forward on occasion and almost took the lead when Blues goalkeeper Edouard Mendy mixed his communications with Azpilicueta, allowing a hosts’ snapshot to be blocked in the box.
Chelsea pressure tells
However, Chelsea’s pressure told with Mount’s half-volley after 78 minutes.
Areola palmed Ben Chilwell’s cross into the path of Mount, who was in the right place at the right time to drill a low effort home.
Frank Lampard’s men then had quick-fire chances to kill the game off, but Abraham and Timo Werner both lost the ball high up the pitch after poor touches.
Fulham had hope with a stoppage-time set piece but after it was defended, Werner could not finish with an effort which curled wide of the post.