Scott Parker’s first game in charge of Fulham ended in defeat as Chelsea won 2-1 at Craven Cottage to maintain their top-four challenge.
Gonzalo Higuain opened the scoring after 16 minutes for Chelsea, who recalled goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga after he was dropped in midweek following his refusal to be substituted in the Carabao Cup final.
Calum Chambers took advantage of some poor marking to equalise for the relegation-threatened hosts in the 27th minute, but Chelsea quickly restored their lead with a fine finish from Jorginho.
Chelsea spurned further chances to add to their advantage but held on to secure their first Premier League away win of 2019 and close the gap on fourth-placed Manchester United to two points.
Chelsea also have a game in hand on United, so hold their destiny in their own hands, while Fulham’s fate almost looks sealed despite an encouraging second-half display under Parker, who was appointed in midweek to replace Claudio Ranieri.
Fulham are 10 points from safety with nine games left to play, two of which are against Liverpool and Manchester City later this month.
They fell behind in the 20th minute against Chelsea when Higuain, who had spurned two earlier chances, finished from Cesar Azpilicueta’s right-wing cross.
Kepa, who was fortunate to get away with dropping a cross before the opening goal, made a sharp save to tip over a volley from Aleksandar Mitrovic.
But Fulham levelled from the subsequent corner as Chambers was left wide open at the back post and volleyed home.
Chelsea soon responded as Jorginho produced a fine finish from the edge of the box, and the visitors had chances to extend their lead before the break.
Higuain blazed over from a good position before Sergio Rico saved from Eden Hazard and then made a superb stop to deny Higuain in injury-time.
Chelsea continued to threaten at the start of the second half as Rico saved from Hazard and Willian.
But Fulham raised their level on the hour mark, with Mitrovic firing wide from outside the box and Kepa pushing away a shot from Tom Cairney.
Kepa was called into action again in the 89th minute to save Mitrovic’s header, and Fulham then had a goal ruled out for offside when Ryan Sessegnon finished from close range in injury-time.
Source: Sky Sports