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Chelsea maintains perfect start with win over Fulham


Latest update : 2009-08-24

Carlo Ancelotti's team continued their winning streak with a comfortable 2-0 victory over Fulham. Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka scored the goals. This victory puts Chelsea in second place in the English Premier League behind Tottenham.

AFP - Chelsea maintained their perfect start to life under Carlo Ancelotti with a comfortable 2-0 victory over Fulham on Sunday.
Ancelotti cut a contented figure at Craven Cottage after his side cruised home against their west London rivals rivals thanks to goals in either half from Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka.
The triumph put Chelsea into second place in the English Premier League table behind Tottenham, but of more significance to Ancelotti will have been the nonchalant manner of the performance.
Chelsea were almost completely untroubled by Roy Hodgson's team, who badly missed the injured Andy Johnson, and this display - characterised by doughty defending and lethal finishing - sent an ominous message to their title rivals.
Ancelotti's satisfaction will have been compounded by the fact that Fulham are a side that traditionally revel in bloodying the noses of the top flight's elite, and Chelsea have suffered more than most.
The Blues had won just three of their previous seven encounters with their near neighbours: hardly a catastrophic record, but not exactly glittering, so the visitors would have been forgiven a little wariness.
That showed in the opening stages, when neither side took the game by the throat.
Fulham, who handed a debut to Republic of Ireland winger Damien Duff, were predictably high-octane, snappy in the tackle and eager to harry their glitzy opponents at every opportunity, and while they delivered precious little as an attacking force, Chelsea were largely neutered.
Instead, they were restricted to half-chances. Michael Ballack propelled a free-kick harmlessly over the crossbar from an inviting position five yards just outside the penalty area - much to the disgust of Frank Lampard, who had appeared the more likely taker - while moments later John Obi Mikel skimmed a 20-yarder two yards wide of the post.
But patience has been a feature of the early Ancelotti era and, just as in their previous league outings this season, their wait was rewarded again when they finally cracked Fulham's resolve with a neatly worked goal in the 39th minute.
The architect was Anelka, the striker splitting the hosts' central defensive pairing of Aaron Hughes and Brede Hangeland with a beautifully weighted pass.
Drogba, having curved his run to perfection, took the ball in his stride and clipped his shot into the corner.
Fulham were angry at the referee's assistant for failing to intervene then but they were grateful moments later, when Drogba was set clear by a delicious pass from Lampard, only for the flag to be raised. Replays suggested the 31-year-old had once again timed his run to the split-second.
Hodgson hardly had the manpower to instigate sweeping changes, so Chelsea remained largely unruffled after the interval.
Drogba might have had a second goal when his angled snap-shot on the turn was smartly saved by Mark Schwarzer, while Lampard dragged wide from a similar position moments later.
That might have briefly reinvigorated Fulham's hopes of an unlikely point but they were snuffed out in the 76th minute.
A slide-rule pass from Drogba picked a path through Fulham's back-line and Anelka rounded Schwarzer and rolled in his first goal of the season.

Date created : 2009-08-23