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  • Writer's pictureBy Yann Tear at Stamford Bridge

Fulham claim the moral victory as they give as good as they get from transfer-crazy Chelsea

Chelsea (0) 0

Fulham (0) 0

So much noise to contend with – but contend with it they did.

Fulham may have just missed out on a first ever league double over their neighbours and are still without a win at Stamford Bridge since 1979, but boy were they good.

The Whites landed into the maelstrom that is Chelsea after a transfer window of showbiz extravagance which will either prove inspired or foolhardy in the months ahead.

But they are a team, well organised and with a style of their own and a manager who has a far less complicated road map for the second half of the season.

And never mind the result, this was a performance which spoke volumes about their greater maturity in this Premier League campaign than in previous attempts to tame the exacting demands of top-flight football.

For now, at least, they remain above their local rivals in the table.

Marco Silva’s team showed just one change from the team which beat the Blues 2-1 at the Cottage less than a month ago – Aleksandar Mitrovic in for the match winner on that day, Carlos Vinicius. By contrast, the ever-evolving Chelsea showed seven changes in personnel.

And after a predictable frenetic start, in which Chelsea tried to show what a £300m January outlay can get you, Fulham began to assemble moves and ask a few questions of their multi-millionaire opponents.

Joao Palhinha got himself booked for a silly touchline lunge at Mason Mount – but it summed up the determination in the away side not to be a mere bit-part in the Chelsea circus.

They created the first opportunity of note too – when Palhinha played in Andreas Pereira for a low drive which Kepa had to stretch low to tip aside.

Kenny Tete - Fulham's outstanding player on the night - scampered past the £107m man Enzo Fernandez down the right and threw in a great cross that Willian almost managed to head into the path of Mitrovic.

The Serb’s audacious attempt from half way in the second half caused Kepa to scamper back to catch the ball under his crossbar.

Willian looked inspired against his old club. Tete, having seen off Mykhailo Mudryk, did an equally good job of keeping sub Raheem Sterling quiet. And he kept going forward often to support attacks.

Kai Havertz twice went close for the Blues in the first half – skying over after lunging for a Mount cross from the left – and just before the break, he lobbed an onrushing Bernd Leno after springing onto Hakim Ziyech’s angled pass from the right – but his effort came back off the near post.

Fernandez had a solid debut – finding players out wide with long passes from deep and he curled one fine effort just wide and when Datro Fofana got the better of Leno in a chase for a through ball, Tim Ream was on hand to block the subsequent shot.

A draw was a fair result.

Chelsea have now lost just two of their last 36 home league games against Fulham and are unbeaten in their past 18 against them at the Bridge. But the moral victory belonged to the team by the Thames.

Blues: (4-2-3-1) Kepa – James (Azpilicueta 60), Silva, Badiashile, Cucurella (Chilwell 84) – Fernandez, Gallagher – Ziyech (Sterling 60), Mount (Datro Fofana 75), Mudryk (Madueke h/t) – Havertz. Subs not used: Bettinelli, Chalobah, Koulibaly, Chukweumeka

Whites: ($-2-3-1) Leno – Tete, Diop, Ream, Robinson – Reed (Cairney 90), Palhinha – Decordova-Reid (Wilson 75), Pereira (Kurzawa 90), Willian (Solomon 75) – Mitrovic (Vinicius 90). Subs not used: Rodak, Tosin, Duffy, James


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