Writer: Andrew Joyce
Date:Sunday December 28 2008
A towering header from Clint Dempsey ensured the spoils were shared in the West London derby this afternoon.
A packed Craven Cottage was treated to an enthralling and massively entertaining game which will go down as one of the best, between the two sides, in recent years.
The draw gives Fulham their best unbeaten run, of nine games, in their Premier League history.
For the fixture, Roy Hodgson was able to recall Brede Hangeland after the influential defender missed the Boxing Day trip to Spurs with influenza. Sadly, Jimmy Bullard wasn`t deemed fit enough to be considered and Dickson Etuhu took his place in central midfield.
For the visitors, Luiz Felipe Scolari made two changes to the side that had beaten West Brom on Boxing Day. Michael Balalck was replaced by Deco whilst the top scorer in the Premier League, Nicolas Anelka, was omitted in favour of Florent Malouda.
Chelsea had the first chance of the game when Drogba timed his run to race onto a ball from Deco but his shot was woeful and went wide. Fulham, in the very next move, took the lead.
Simon Davies delivered a free kick into the danger area and Chelsea`s defence hesitated whilst Clint Dempsey finished with aplomb.
After the goal, Chelsea, despite losing Malouda and Alex to injury in the first half, had the better of the exchanges. Schwarzer did well to keep out a long range Anelka shot and also to deny Drogba. Further efforts from distance, by Lampard, were also comfortably dealt with.
1-0 at half time and a satisfied home crowd.
Sadly, it didn`t take Chelsea too long to equalise in the second half. With forty-nine minutes gone, a calamitous mix-up involving Schwarzer and Hughes saw Lampard presented with an easy chance to roll the ball home.
The goal saw the game open up and with Chelsea pushing for a winner, John Pantsil raced down the right hand side of the pitch before shooting wide. When Andrew Johnson was pulled up for a foul with seventy-two minutes gone it looked as if our defence would be able to cope seeing as the free kick was some twenty-five yards away.
What we didn`t reckon upon though was the wall being so flimsy and when Lampard drove his kick through it Schwarzer didn`t have enough time to react and make a decent hash of it.
Chelsea thought they`d taken all three points but they hadn`t reckoned on the now famous Fulham perseverance. A corner was won and when Davies floated the ball over there was Clint Dempsey rising high to head past a stranded Petr Cech.
Bravo lads, now on to Sheffield Wednesday next Saturday!
Date:Sunday December 28 2008
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