CHELSEA 3; FULHAM 2 Richard Gibson CHELSEA bucked their trend in London derbies to defeat Fulham last night and maintain their bid for a Champions League place.
Having taken just eight points from as many capital clashes prior to this contest, another night of frustration appeared to be in store until sub Mikael Forssell turned in a late winner.
Claudio Ranieri's side, who began the evening 11 points adrift of fourth place and that lucrative spot in Europe's premier club competition, were twice pegged back by goals from Louis Saha. Chelsea's opening goal came from an unlikely source. Mario Melchiot ran unchallenged from right-back before cutting in to shoot past a static Edwin van der Sar with his left foot, via a deflection off Rufus Brevett.
Yet, within 60 seconds of Chelsea's opener, Fulham were given the chance to level in controversial circumstances. A burst into the area by Saha was halted by a well-timed tackle by William Gallas but referee Peter Jones pointed to the spot. Saha tucked his shot inside Carlo Cudicini's post. Chelsea regained the lead just short of the half hour mark. Graeme Le Saux exploited holes in a Fulham defence by inviting Eidur Gudjohnsen to run deep into the visitors' territory. The Icelandic striker picked his spot and sidefooted home.
Fulham hauled themselves level again with just 17 minutes left. John Collins sought out Steve Marlet's pace down the left and he checked his run and picked out Saha, who headed in his second.
Ranieri responded by employing his third substitute, Forssell. And he continued his phenomenal record coming from the bench with his seventh goal from such a position in 12 games.