Fulham 1–3 Chelsea: Schurrle hat trick extends Chelsea’s lead at the top
Three second-half strikes from the German forward helped the Blues to a comfortable victory at Craven Cottage and leaves Felix Magath's side rooted to the bottom.
The forward notched his second hat trick of the season, having achieved the feat for Germany against Sweden in October, and doubled his Chelsea tally to six league goals in 2013-14 following his second-half treble at Craven Cottage on Saturday.
Fulham had the better chances in the opening period but failed to take them and was made to pay as the Blues moved up through the gears after the break.
Schurrle, ably assisted by Eden Hazard and Fernando Torres, finished all three efforts clinically as Chelsea extended its unbeaten run to 13 league games, despite John Heitinga's late consolation.
The victory, combined with Arsenal's defeat against Stoke, sees Chelsea open up a gap at the top of the table, while Fulham remains rooted to the bottom after an eighth league game without a win.
Following the midweek Champions League trip to Turkey, Premier League leades Chelsea took its time to settle into the game and was lucky not to be behind in the third minute as Clint Dempsey wasted a great chance.
Pajtim Kasami forced his way past Branislav Ivanovic on the left and drilled a cross into the penalty area for the unmarked American, playing the last game of his loan spell, but the 30-year-old could not direct his header on target from six yards.
Chances were at a premium for both sides in a half bereft of quality, with only Kasami forcing a save from either goalkeeper with a low free kick in the final five minutes that Petr Cech held easily.
Chelsea quickly put the poor first-half display behind it as Schurrle opened the scoring seven minutes after the break.
Hazard played a weighted pass over the top of the Fulham defense for the German to run onto, and he cut across Dan Burn before slotting past Maarten Stekelenburg from the edge of the penalty area.
Torres should have doubled Chelsea's lead just before the hour after more excellent work from Hazard, but the 29-year-old saw his header at the back post deflect off Kieran Richardson and away from danger.
With 65 minutes played, Schurrle added his second goal, with Hazard again involved. The Belgian escaped the attentions of Heitinga before rolling a perfect pass into Schurrle and he fired low beyond Stekelenburg.
Schurrle's hat trick was complete three minutes later as the forward made no mistake with a calm finish after being played in by Torres.
Fulham netted a consolation with 16 minutes to play as Darren Bent knocked down a Lewis Holtby corner and Heitinga poked the ball beyond Cech from close range.
|Sign up with William Hill for a free bet up to $100 CAD|
- Own Goal
- Penalty Missed
- Yellow Card
- Penalty Save
- Penalty Shootout Goal
- Penalty Shootout Miss
- Yellow Card / Red Card
- Red Card
- Substitution IN
- Substitution OUT
- Goal.com Rating
- Goal.com Man of the Match
- Goal.com Flop of the Match
- Top & Flop Global Ranking
- Fans' Man of the Match
- Fans' Flop of the Match