Second-half goals from the midfield pair proved enough to settle a timid west London derby after Jose Mourinho had left out Juan Mata and David Luiz from his 18-man squadChelsea rubbished talk of a crisis by moving to the top of the Premier League table with a 2-0 win over Fulhamon Saturday.
Jose Mourinho's men were not at their best during the Stamford Bridge encounter – decided by second-half goals from Oscar and John Obi Mikel - but did enough to register their third top-flight win of the season.
|VIEW FROM STAMFORD BRIDGE
|By Liam Twomey
Sone Aluko’s stunning volley sealed a 3-2 win for Hull City at Newcastle on Saturday afternoon, to snatch the Tigers’ first away win since returning to the Premier League.
The hosts had twice taken the lead in the first half through Loic Remy, but Hull hit back through Robbie Brady and Ahmed Elmohammady before Aluko struck.
The win boosts the Tigers’ early hopes of top-flight survival, but the final whistle was met by boos from the home crowd, who have seen just one win from three tough outings at St James’ Park this term.
Chelsea entered the match without a victory in their last four matches in all competitions, and could have trailed in the early stages when Fulham striker Darren Bent was presented with a terrific chance.
Bent wasted his effort though, and after a scrappy first half, the Blues took the lead through Oscar's close-range finish in the 52nd minute.
Mikel subsequently capped off the victory with his first Premier League goal – plundered during his 185th appearance – when he hooked in following yet another Chelsea corner.
Mourinho reacted to his side's 2-1 home defeat to FC Basel in the Champions League on Wednesday by swinging the axe, making four changes, as Juan Mata and David Luiz were left out of the squad while Frank Lampard dropped to the bench.
Captain John Terry was recalled by Mourinho, as were Mikel, Ramires, and attacker Andre Schurrle.
Fulham made three changes of their own, with Damien Duff - one of three-ex Chelsea players in their starting side.
The visitors fashioned the first chance of the match when Steve Sidwell, another former Chelsea player, headed over, and although Samuel Eto'o flicked wide at the other end, the visitors should have taken the lead in the 13th minute.
A superb pass from Pajtim Kasami set Bent free, but the Aston Villa loanee – who entered the match with three goals in his last three matches against Chelsea – failed to make the most of the one-on-one opportunity, shooting straight at goalkeeper Petr Cech.
Chelsea felt they should have won a penalty shortly after, when Sascha Reither pushed Eden Hazard, and although nothing was given, Mourinho's men started to grow into the game.
Their abundance of possession, and several set-pieces, failed to materialise into anything substantial though, with further half-chances for Eto'o and a hopeful Hazard volley the best they could muster before Branislav Ivanovic saw a good drive turned wide by Fulham goalkeeper David Stockdale on the stroke of half-time.
Chelsea got their goal seven minutes after play resumed, however, as Oscar found himself in the right place at the right time.
Schurrle was the instigator, skipping past Reither before shooting from the left with an effort that was spilled by Stockdale.
Fulham panicked and failed to clear their lines properly and Oscar was on hand to tap in with his left foot, much to the delight of the home supporters.
Sidwell had a good chance to level proceedings less than two minutes later, but could not direct his header on target, while Hazard went close at the other end.
Stockdale then made a terrific save to deny a thumping Fernando Torres header, but from the resultant corner Chelsea scored again, as Mikel pounced on Terry's header to thrash home a landmark goal with just six minutes to play.
And despite Kieran Richardson forcing Cech into a smart save late on, Chelsea held on for an important three points, as they extended their unbeaten record against Fulham in the Premier League to 15 matches.