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Thursday 17 October 2019

'Tense' Blues still good enough to see off Fulham

Chelsea 2 Fulham 0

NERVES: Maurizio Sarri. Pic: PA
NERVES: Maurizio Sarri. Pic: PA

Maurizio Sarri blamed nerves for Chelsea's edgy 2-0 win over bottom club Fulham yesterday.

Pedro scored after four minutes when N'Golo Kante dispossessed Jean Michael Seri - a passage of play described as a "present" by Fulham boss Claudio Ranieri.

But Chelsea's second came late on through substitute Ruben Loftus-Cheek as Sarri lamented the failure to "kill" the contest.

"After the 1-0 the players on the pitch had a very good level of application, attention, but without trying to kill the match," Sarri said.

"We needed to kill the match before we did. We were a little bit tense."

Chelsea responded from their season's first loss - a 3-1 defeat at Spurs after an 18-game unbeaten streak - by beating PAOK Salonika on Thursday and followed it by beating their west London rivals.

Sarri stressed the result was more important than the performance, having criticised his players' display at Wembley.

He added: "I think in Tottenham 11 players played very badly and so I thought that today it was natural to give them another chance.

"But I think we've talked too much about that match. We lost after three months and a half. It can happen.

"Today was more important, of course, and I think in the mind of the players there was only the result."

Loftus-Cheek is now pressing Ross Barkley and Mateo Kovacic for a starting place. Sarri said: "In the last three weeks he solved me problems." Alvaro Morata dropped to the bench as Olivier Giroud started up front, but the Spain striker missed a simple chance when coming on as a substitute.

"They need more continuity," Sarri said of his strikers.

Former Chelsea and Leicester City boss Ranieri was taking charge of Fulham for only the second time.

He felt the display was better than his first - a 3-2 win over Southampton - but rued the early conceded goal.

"It's strange to say, but I think we played much better today than in the Southampton match," said Ranieri, whose side next face Leicester, with whom he won an improbable Premier League title in 2016.

"At the beginning we gave a good present when we lost the ball and they scored on the counter-attack, but afterwards we reacted very well.

"When you concede a goal from the beginning, it's difficult. I changed the diamond at half-time and played with two wingers.

"We created some problems for them and had some good chances to draw the match.

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

 

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