Mykhailo Mudryk ended his long wait for a Chelsea goal as Mauricio Pochettino’s side earned their second Premier League win of the season by beating Fulham 2-0 on Monday night.
Ukraine winger Mudryk showed great close control and finished clinically before Armando Broja netted his first goal since October last year to seal the points midway through the first half.
Fulham rallied and looked more capable of challenging the Blues in the second half but couldn’t find a route back into the match.
How the game unfolded
Broja, plugged into the gap vacated by the suspended Nicolas Jackson up front, showed some encouraging signs early on by powering behind the Fulham defence. A wild shot ended up in the crowd before a belated offside flag was raised.
The Blues started smoothly in attack and worked a similar opening when good work from Cole Palmer and Enzo Fernandez allowed Mudryk to drift towards the centre of the box. However, his effort landed in a similar spot at Craven Cottage to Broja’s earlier strike.
Fulham struggled to match Chelsea early on and their sloppy start cost them dear as the visitors raced into a two-goal lead with only 71 seconds between the strikes.
Mudryk delivered on his early threat by collecting Levi Colwill’s pinpoint cross and sliding his finish past Cottagers stopper Bernd Leno, netting his first goal for Chelsea since his mega-money arrival back in January.
For a Chelsea side that hadn’t scored in the Premier League since 25 August, their next goal came alarming quickly as Fulham dithered at the back.
USMNT defender Tim Ream was at fault, first giving a sloppy pass straight to Palmer which allowed Broja to run towards goal. Ream got to Palmer’s resulting cross first but could only cannon it off Broja and into the back of the net.
Fulham attempted to press aggressively through Andreas Pereira and Harrison Reed but Mudryk was frequently available on Chelsea’s right and it was Pochettino’s side who continued to enjoy more of the chances.
Another awful pass from the back, this time from Issa Diop, was pounced upon by Enzo Fernandez who fed Palmer with a precise ball in behind. However, the winger dallied before Fernandez thumped wide from the edge of the box.
Mudryk then powered past Timothy Castagne again out wide but his cut-back was diverted away from danger by the alert Leno.
Fulham’s limited threat in the first half meant their first attempt on goal only came in the 41st minute. A Pereira corner was attacked by Raul Jimenez, searching for his first goal for his new club since leaving Wolves, but his header sailed safely past the far post.
Mudryk was forced off at half-time after collecting an injury and replacement Ian Maatsen went close to making it 3-0 just after the hour mark.
The Dutchman arrived on the end of a flowing move but his away-swinging shot with his left foot struck the post before the follow-up from Fernandez was well smothered by Leno.
Chelsea’s attention turned towards seeing out the result during the second half as Fulham attempted to find a route back into the game.
Substitute Alex Iwobi did well to create space and cross towards Carlos Vinicius, but the Brazilian couldn’t generate any power on his header and the largely untested Robert Sanchez was able to collect.
Spaniard Sanchez was then required to boot away an effort on goal from Sasa Lukic when the Fulham substitute ought to have scored.
The game limped towards the full-time whistle as a poor night’s work from Fulham came to an end. Chelsea leapfrogged their west London rivals in the Premier League table with the victory, sitting 11th with the Cottagers down in 13th.
GK: Bernd Leno – 7/10 – On hand to keep the scoreline down with some smart and brave saves.
RB: Timothy Castagne – 5/10 – No match for speed with Mudryk but did position himself well to stop the Ukrainian jetting away too frequently.
CB: Issa Diop – 4/10 – A few sloppy passes in the first half set the tone for a disappointing evening.
CB: Tim Ream – 3/10 – Contributed to Fulham’s downfall with a string of errors in Broja’s goal.
LB: Antonee Robinson – 7/10 – Provided a more solid performance in Fulham’s defence, often picking up the slack left by his teammates.
CM: Harrison Reed – 5/10 – A little too keen to press high up the pitch, allowing Chelsea to pass around him and move forward quickly.
CM: Joao Palhinha – 5/10 – Left on his own when Chelsea turned over possession and broke quickly.
CM: Andreas Pereira – 4/10 – Lucky to avoid a yellow for a couple of silly fouls before eventually being booked. Few opportunities to deliver fell short of the required standard.
RW: Harry Wilson – 5/10 – Couldn’t find a target with any of his crosses into the box before making way early in the second half.
ST: Raul Jimenez – 5/10 – Headed Fulham’s only attempt of the first half wide and generally cut an isolated figure before his withdrawal.
LW: Willian – 6/10 – Linked up well when Robinson went outside him but couldn’t provide many chances on goal for his teammates.
Carlos Vinicius (53′ for Jimenez) – 5/10 – One decent chance on goal but couldn’t get any power on his header.
Alex Iwobi (54′ for Wilson) – 6/10 – Buzzed into promising positions and set up some promising moments.
Tom Cairney (65′ for Reed) – 6/10 – Some smart passes in the final third made Fulham more fluid.
Sasa Lukic (75′ for Pereira) – 6/10 – Had Fulham’s best chance but saw it beaten away by Sanchez.
Subs not used: Bobby De Cordova-Reid, Rodrigo Muniz, Calvin Bassey, Fode Ballo, Marek Rodak.
Marco Silva – 6/10 – Fulham’s players were a little over-exuberant without possession which gifted the visitors space to play into. Substitutions gave Fulham more of a foothold in the second half but the damage was done by that point.
GK: Robert Sanchez – 6/10 – Had almost nothing to do in the first half. Clean sheet and was booked for time wasting.
RB: Marc Cucurella – 7/10 – Booked for crashing into Willian in the first half. Was fleet-footed and confident in defence to a standard he’s rarely produced at Chelsea so far.
CB: Axel Disasi – 7/10 – Fulham presented little threat in behind Chelsea’s defence, much the visiting centre-back pairing’s delight. Disasi put in a solid showing.
CB: Thiago Silva – 7/10 – Made seven clearances and was well positioned to deal with most of Fulham’s threat.
LB: Levi Colwill – 8/10 – Great ball to Mudryk earned Colwill an assist from left-back and he could not be beaten by any Fulham forward on the flank.
CM: Conor Gallagher – 7/10 – Benefitted from Fernandez playing deeper, which allowed him to threaten with darts towards the box.
CM: Moises Caicedo – 7/10 – Managed to drive into space on occasion and helped Chelsea see the game out by picking off interceptions. Limped off just before full-time.
CM: Enzo Fernandez – 7/10 – Dropped deeper in midfield from his previous number ten role and looked much neater for it, making tackles and setting Chelsea away on the counter.
RW: Cole Palmer – 7/10 – Showed great feet in transition, when he constantly looked a threat. Late foul and kicking the ball away got him a yellow.
ST: Armando Broja – 8/10 – Somewhat fortuitous to double Chelsea’s lead but deserved the goal with some sharp movement. Hopefully won’t face another spell injured on the sidelines.
LW: Mykhailo Mudryk – 8/10 – Take and finish from Colwill’s goal didn’t smack of a player down on confidence. Had to watch the second half after scoring his first Blues goal due to an injury.
Ian Maatsen (46′ for Mudryk) – 6/10 – Came close to extending Chelsea’s lead but saw his shot come back off the woodwork.
Raheem Sterling (65′ for Broja) – 5/10 – Booked quickly after his arrival and had more defensive than attacking work to do.
Lesley Ugochukwu (78′ for Palmer) – 6/10
Alex Matos (90′ for Fernandez) – N/A – Made his Chelsea debut on the eve of his 19th birthday.
Noni Madueke (90′ for Caicedo) – N/A
Subs not used: Deivid de Souza, Alfie Glichrist, Josh Brooking, Djodje Petrovic
Mauricio Pochettino – 7/10 – His side showed the necessary clinical edge to take a strong two-goal lead they never looked like relinquishing, earning a second league win with the Blues.