English Premiership

Sarri praises nervy Chelsea after Fulham win

2018-12-02 18:29
Maurizio Sarri (Supplied)

London - Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri praised his team after they bounced back from their first Premier League defeat of the season to see off bottom club Fulham 2-0 on Sunday.

The home side dominated possession at Stamford Bridge and scored early through Spain forward Pedro but struggled to find their rhythm and looked vulnerable against their spirited visitors until substitute Ruben Loftus-Cheek settled their nerves with a late second.

"After the 1-0 the players on the pitch had a very good level of application, attention, but without trying to kill the match," said Sarri, who pulled his players in for one-on-one post-mortems after last week's chastening 3-1 loss to Spurs.

"We needed to kill the match before (we did). But I think today we were a little bit tense."

"Today it was important to react," he added. "The team reacted really very well in the Europa League. Today was more important, of course, and I think in the mind of the players there was only the result."

The home side, welcoming former manager Claudio Ranieri back to Stamford Bridge in the Fulham dugout, were quickly into their stride against their London neighbours and were ahead inside four minutes.

N'Golo Kante - publicly criticised by his manager for his positioning in the match against Spurs - was instrumental in the opening goal, dispossessing Jean Michael Seri in the middle of the pitch and feeding the ball to Pedro on the right side of the penalty box.

The winger stepped inside onto his left foot and fired the ball into the far corner

Pedro's strike was Chelsea's 1 000th home goal in the Premier League - they are the third club to reach the landmark after Manchester United and Arsenal.

Chelsea dominated the remainder of the first half, with Sergio Rico saving smartly from Olivier Giroud shortly before half-time but they failed to convert their dominance into clear-cut chances.

Fulham started the match rooted to the foot of the table but lifted by last week's victory in Ranieri's first match as boss, which followed six straight Premier League defeats.

Ranieri made two substitutions for the second half, bringing on Floyd Ayite and Aboubakar Kamara for Stefan Johansen and Ryan Sessegnon.

Fulham, playing with more urgency after the break, twice went close to an equaliser through defender Calum Chambers.

Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga kept out Chambers' header from a corner then midway through the second half Kepa palmed away a powerful shot from the Arsenal loanee.

The home side had a chance to guarantee all three points when Rico could only palm an Eden Hazard deflected shot into the path of second-half substitute Alvaro Morata but he skewed the ball horribly with the goal at his mercy.

The Spain forward was spared further embarrassment when England international Loftus-Cheek finished a lovely intricate move by driving into the net from the right-hand side of the penalty area in the 82nd minute.

"We created some problems for them, (and had some) good chances to draw the match," said Ranieri.

"In the end, when you change with some quality players, they can score a second. But I'm satisfied with how we reacted, how we played, but now we want to improve."


Read News24’s Comments Policy

Saturday, 18 January 2020
Norwich City v AFC Bournemouth, Carrow Road 17:00
Arsenal v Sheffield United, Emirates Stadium 17:00
Manchester City v Crystal Palace, Etihad Stadium 17:00
West Ham United v Everton, London Stadium 17:00
Southampton v Wolverhampton Wanderers, St. Mary's Stadium 17:00
Brighton & Hove Albion v Aston Villa, The American Express Community Stadium 17:00
Newcastle United v Chelsea, St. James' Park 19:30
Sunday, 19 January 2020
Burnley v Leicester City, Turf Moor 16:00
Liverpool v Manchester United, Anfield 18:30
Tuesday, 21 January 2020
Sheffield United v Manchester City, Bramall Lane 21:30
Everton v Newcastle United, Goodison Park 21:30
Crystal Palace v Southampton, Selhurst Park 21:30
Aston Villa v Watford, Villa Park 21:30
AFC Bournemouth v Brighton & Hove Albion, Vitality Stadium 21:30
Chelsea v Arsenal, Stamford Bridge 22:15
Team P W PTS
Previous Results

Date Home Team Result Away Team

And the 2019/20 English Premiership champions will be ... ?

Love 2 Meet
English Premiership flutter

Take Sport24's "expert" tips at your peril...

Sport24 on Twitter

Follow Sport24 news on Twitter


The 2018/19 Absa Premiership season is in full swing. Will Mamelodi Sundowns retain their title? Or can one of Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates, Wits, SuperSport United - or another team perhaps - snatch glory from the Brazilians? Be sure to visit Sport24 for all the latest news!

Latest blogs

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.