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Fulham 1-3 Chelsea Prem 28 1314 Daily Mail

last updated Sunday 02nd March 2014, 2:34 PM
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Rob Draper at Daily Mail


Fulham (0) 1 Chelsea (0) 3


To the long list of Jose Mourinho's mind games, we now have to add the silent treatment.

It seems that his Chelsea team were spooked into a performance by a half-time walk-out by their manager.

Rather than address their shortcomings in what was a lamentable first half from Chelsea's point of view, Mourinho simply walked out of the dressing room, allowing his players to stew in their own failings.

'Normally I give the players two or three minutes to arrive, to change boots or shirts and after that they know that I start talking,' said Mourinho.

'And they were there, ready for me. But I was not ready for them. I decided not to speak - because if I start speaking about the first half I would need more than 10 minutes.

'I think they showed they are very intelligent - without words, you understand what is in the mind of a person, especially if you know the person. I think they understood the first half was really poor and they transformed it into a fantastic second half.'

Chelsea looked lame, tepid and uninspired for 45 minutes. The designated creative midfield players all were utterly ineffective, none more so than Andre Schurrle. In fact, Felix Magath's managerial debut at Craven Cottage had started surprisingly well. And then came Mourinho's intervention.

Eden Hazard was transformed from indifference to excellence and he, in turn, brought out the best in Schurrle. And in transforming the game with a 16-minute hat-trick, the German sent a clear message on an afternoon that Arsenal lost and Manchester City did not play.

Even when Chelsea appear to be faltering, they will find a way to get back into their stride and of such recoveries are title winners made.

For Fulham, it looks bleak. Cardiff next week will be a vital game but by the time the next reasonable run of fixtures comes, in April, it will surely be too late to survive. Magath, of course, remains optimistic.

'For sure there is hope,' he said. 'You cannot expect we win against the leading team, so today nothing happened. We have to go to Cardiff and it would be better if we win the first game.'

He could point to significant first-half chances for Clint Dempsey, Dan Burn and Steve Sidwell that might have opened the scoring. Burn was three yards out when he failed to get a touch; Sidwell eight yards out when he blazed over.

But for Magath the transformation was more a result of Fulham's failures than Chelsea's inspiration. He was right that losing Brede Hangeland after a clash of heads with his team-mate Kieran Richardson on 15 minutes was a cruel blow.

'After half-time we forgot to defend,' said Magath. 'I have seldom seen such a goal as the first one. Schurrle runs over the whole field and nobody tackles him. I cannot imagine we would have made such mistakes with Brede. He is the head of the team.'

And Magath was also right that no one could have anticipated the 16-minute maelstrom that transformed the game. Hazard was the instigator of the revival - perhaps he feared the silent treatment from Mourinho more than most, as in the first half was he was abject.

But from a knock-back from Schurrle on 52 minutes, the Belgian delivered an exquisite pass, allowing Schurrle a clear run on goal. Sprinting away from Burn over 20 yards, Schurrle did not disappoint.

Hazard seemed unburdened, for there was now an absurd playfulness to his creativity. A cross for Fernando Torres, executed by crossing one leg behind the other and striking the ball with the backward leg, was an utter delight.

He was now dominating areas in which he could barely get a kick in the first half. On 65 minutes, given too much space outside the box, he dinked through another clever pass for Schurrle, and, from close range this time, the German finished again.

Three minutes later the hat-trick was complete. A long ball was won in the air by Torres, who played in Schurrle, who sprinted away from Johnny Heitinga and finished decisively.

'I expect this from him,' said Mourinho of Schurrle. 'Cold blood. He is in front of the goal and he's the kind of guy who finishes. He can chip, he can score with the right foot and the left foot and this is what I expect from him.'

Fulham would respond. A corner found Darren Bent at the far post and he prodded the ball across goal for Heitinga to turn in on 74 minutes. But their early optimism had long since been deflated by then. By now Chelsea were well into their stride and about to go four points clear at the top of the table.

Fulham: Stekelenburg 5; Riether 5.5, Hangeland 4 (Burn 16, 4.5), Heitinga 6, Richardson 6; Dejagah 5, Parker 5 (Karagounis 79), Sidwell 5.5, Dempsey 5; Kasami 5 (Holtby 61), Bent 4.
Subs not used: Stockdale, Riise, Kvist, Holtby, Rodallega.

Goals: Heitinga 74.

Booked: Dejagah, Kasami.

Chelsea: Cech 6; Ivanovic 6, Cahill 6.5, Terry 7, Azpilicueta 6.5; Ramires 7, Matic 7; Schurrle 9 (Luiz 87), Oscar 6 (Mikel 78), Hazard 8.5; Torres 6.5 (Ba 82).
Subs not used: Schwarzer, Cole, Lampard, Willian.

Goals: Schurrle 52, 65, 69.

Booked: Ramires.

Ref: Mark Clattenburg 6.5





















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