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  • Writer's pictureBy Yann Tear at Craven Cottage

Vinicius wins it for Fulham to end 17 years of pain against a sorry 10-man Chelsea


Fulham (1) 2 Willian 25, Vinicius 73

Chelsea (0) 1 Koulibaly 47

And they didn’t even need Aleksandar Mitrovic.


Fulham pulled off a stunning victory over their most hated foes as they finally ended a wretched run of 21 games without a win against the Blues – a sequence stretching back to March 2006 when Luis Boa Morte, a symbolic presence on the sidelines tonight , bagged a memorable winner.


They were helped by the straight red card given to debutant Joao Felix on 57 minutes which ruined what had been a mightily impressive introduction to life in the Premier League for the nimble striker.


But the night belonged to Willian – scoring in the first half against his old club – and Carlos Vinicius, a replacement for the suspended Mitrovic.


Talk about finding a good time to get your first goal in the Premier League.


The ex-Spurs frontman has endured a tough time as the Serb’s understudy, but he battled gamely against compatriot Thiago Silva and was on hand to nod in a deep cross from the right from Andreas Pereira to send the Cottage into delirium.


Kepa Arrizbalaga might have done better as the ball was in the air for an age, but there is a malaise about Graham Potter’s side that this goal typified. The Blues have now gone six away games without a win and are sliding into mid-table obscurity.


Potter was predictably taunted with chants about being sacked in the morning. It may be quicker than that.


The game turned on Felix’s fatal miscalculation. The Portuguese was over-enthusiastic, to put it mildly, when he went for a ball with studs high and caught Kenny Tete painfully on the shin.


Referee David Coote had no option but to usher Felix to the catflap.


Signed on loan for the rest of the season from Atletico Madrid, Felix had made a superb start to his Chelsea career, drawing fouls and yellow cards from Antonee Robinson, and Pereira and forcing a desperate Joao Palhinha to tug at his sleeve to halt another of his lithe attacks.


There was also a dazzling run down the right and cut in past Tim Ream which set up chances for Kai Havertz (blocked) and Lewis Hall (saved by Bernd Leno).


He tested Leno a couple of times with shots and his ability to find space with a roving brief made the visitors look the team most likely. His movement made him hard to pick up and he ghosted into menacing positions.


But the menace extended to the unacceptable and he ruined the narrative with that reckless challenge.


Fulham got their noses in front after a double calamity from an off-key Trevoh Chalobah.


When Bobby Reid skipped past Hall down the right to fire in a cross, Chalobah failed to clear with a weak back header and Willian picked up the pieces, driving back towards goal and firing in a low shot which beat Kepa with the aid of a deflection off the hapless Chelsea defender.


It came not long after he had almost gifted an opener with a misplaced header which Vinicius used to feed an excellent Reid for a shot against the bar.


But the second half had barely started when Mason Mount curled in a free-kick to the near post which came back off the post, and Leno, for Kalidou Koulibaly to poke home from close range.


It looked for all the world as though normal service might be resumed, but then came Felix’s moment of madness.


Fulham have now won four top flight games in a row for the first time since 1966. They are the ones in these parts looking up at European ambitions rather than down.


There had been just seven Whites wins in 74 league meetings with the Blues before today. It is the worst record in head to heads over at least 50 fixtures between two teams. It was high time that record was improved.


Whites: (4-2-3-1) Leno – Tete, Tosin, Ream, Robinson – Palhinha, Reed (Cairney 68) – Decordova-Reid (Wilson 68), Pereira (James 90), Willian (Solomon 83) – Vinicius (N Chalobah 90). Subs not used: Rodak, Kurzawa, Diop, Harris


Blues: (3-4-2-1) Arrizabalaga – Chalobah (Cucurella 79), Thiago Silva, Koulibaly – Azpilicueta, Zakaria (Jorginho 56), Kovacic (Gallagher 79), Hall (Chukweumeka 79)– Mount (Ziyech 79), Joao Felix – Havertz. Subs not used: Bettinelli, Badiashile, Aubameyang, D Fofana

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