Belfast Telegraph

Cottagers dent Chelsea bid

Chelsea's Barclays Premier League title hopes suffered another heavy blow as Fulham came from behind to consign them to a third successive 1-1 draw.

Fernando Torres flopped on his first league start for almost two months, although he did inadvertently lay on Juan Mata's 47th-minute opener, the winger's fifth goal of the season.

Fulham belied their miserable away record to equalise nine minutes later through Clint Dempsey's ninth of the campaign, ensuring the spoils were shared in the west London derby.

Fulham were the better side for 15 minutes, with Dempsey's bouncing 25-yard shot forcing an uncomfortable save from Petr Cech and Orlando Sa seeing an effort blocked by David Luiz before heading Stephen Kelly's cross over the bar.

Torres was unlucky not to give Chelsea the lead when he expertly controlled Mata's cross on his chest but smashed his volley straight at goalkeeper David Stockdale.

Torres' travails looked to have continued after the restart but the striker helped the Blues break the deadlock inside two minutes.

He failed to control Ashley Cole's cross but the ball fell perfectly for Mata to sweep home left footed from the edge of the box.

Fulham had only scored four league goals away from home all season, the worst record in the top flight, but they were soon level with a superbly-worked goal.

The ball eventually found its way to Bryan Ruiz on the right, who tricked his way past Cole and crossed for Dempsey to stab the ball past Cech.

Stockdale twice denied Chelsea a late winner, tipping Raul Meireles' header over the bar before palming away Didier Drogba's glance from a corner.


From Belfast Telegraph