Saturday 20 December 2003, 3:00pm at Loftus Road, London
Barclays Premier League
Fulham FC
Crespo 62'

76' Yellow Card

Louis Saha Card was given for a foul

88' Yellow Card

Lee Clark Card was given for a foul

37' Substitution

Player was substituted due to an injury
On:Martin Djetou
Off:Sean Davis

69' Substitution

Player was substituted for tactical reasons
On:Barry Hayles
Off:Jon Harley

62' Goal

Hernán Crespo

34' Yellow Card

Joe Cole Card was given for a foul

45' Yellow Card

Glen Johnson Card was given for a foul

84' Yellow Card

Jesper Grönkjaer Card was given for a foul

8' Substitution

Player was substituted due to an injury
On:Joe Cole
Off:Damien Duff

84' Substitution

Player was substituted for tactical reasons
Off:Joe Cole

89' Substitution

Player was substituted for tactical reasons
On:William Gallas
Off:Hernán Crespo

Chelsea recover to take the bragging rights as Hernan Crespo fires them to victory in the SW6 derby.

Russian billionaire Abramovich showed up at the club Christmas party on Thursday and told the players he bought he was 100% behind them despite defeats against Bolton and Aston Villa. And Claudio Ranieri's men reacted in exactly the manner the owner wanted - beating Fulham 1-0 thanks to Hernan Crespo's bullet header. 

Carlo Cudicini had had to save Chelsea twice in the second minute, first from Louis Saha and then Andy Melville. The visitors from down the Fulham Road did establish superiority for much of the first half but found Edwin van der Sar in imperious form between the Fulham sticks. Arguably the pick of the big Dutchman's saves was when he dived across the goalmouth to deny Damien Duff, who injured his shoulder when falling after shooting and was stretchered off. 

After the break, Lampard scuffed a shot from a great position after Crespo squared the ball to him. And Crespo showed Lampard how to do it after 61 minutes, towering above the statuesque Melville to power home his eighth goal of the season and the strike that won this match. Fulham went close late on through Luis Boa Morte but Chelsea stood firm to revive their title challenge and give their supporters the perfect Christmas present - the west London bragging rights. 

For Chris Coleman's Cottagers, who have already beaten Manchester United and drawn with Arsenal this season, it was back to being the underdogs in SW6.  They have not beaten Chelsea since 1979. Fulham had started brightly in front of a directors' box packed with big names. Sven-Goran Eriksson was present along with his partner Nancy Dell'Olio and rival owners Mohamed Al Fayed and Abramovich. Carlo Cudicini saved from Louis Saha's header after two minutes, then seized Melville's flicked header just below his crossbar. At the other end, Duff brought an excellent save from Edwin van der Sar with a 20-yard effort. 

But the Blues winger fell awkwardly as he was challenged by Sean Davis when he shot and was stretchered off clutching his right shoulder. Duff's injury handed Joe Cole an early taste of the action from the bench. And Ranieri's side could have taken the lead in the 12th minute when Crespo broke into space but poked a shot wide under pressure from Melville. 

Chelsea were beginning to take the upper hand and, at the half-way point in the first period, Cole fed Mutu who stung van der Sar's palms with an angled drive. The Blues twice went close to the opener in the 32nd minute. First, Steed Malbranque's clearance rebounded off Glen Johnson and Jon Harley headed over his crossbar as the ball threatened to bounce in. Then Crespo cleverly diverted a near-post corner back to the penalty spot and John Terry's strike was smartly blocked by van der Sar right on his goal line. Fulham suffered an injury blow when Davis hobbled off holding his right thigh, to be replaced by Martin Djetou. Cudicini made a superb save from Melville's powerful header on the stroke of half-time. Chelsea fashioned a great opening six minutes after the break and should have taken the lead. Cole skipped away from a challenge and slipped a fine pass in behind Melville. Crespo raced onto it and squared for Lampard - but the midfielder scuffed his shot and van der Sar saved well at the foot of his left-hand post. But the Dutch keeper was powerless to prevent the visitors seizing the lead after 61 minutes. Wayne Bridge fired over an arcing cross from the left and Crespo towered above Melville - who bizarrely did not even challenge the striker - and thumped aheader into the top corner. Cudicini had luck on his side four minutes later as Boa Morte raced into the area and shot, with the ball beating the Italian keeper's dive but hitting his boot and rebounding into his grasp. Cudicini fisted away Malbranque's deflected 25-yard pile driver, while van der Sar had to be alert to save a fierce drive from Cole and block Lampard's close-range effort. Late on, Fulham right-back Moritz Volz sent a 25-yarder fizzing a foot over the top.

Match Information

Competition: Barclays Premier League

Date: Saturday 20 December 2003
Kick-off: 3:00pm

Venue: Loftus Road, London
Attendance: 18,244

Referee: Mike Riley


Line-up: Van der Sar; Volz, Knight, Melville, Harley (Hayles 69'); Malbranque, Legwinski, Davis (Djetou 37'), Clark, Boa Morte; Saha

Unused substitutes: Crossley, Goma, Sava


Line-up: Cudicini; Johnson, Desailly, Terry, Bridge; Grönkjaer, Lampard, Makelele, Duff (Joe Cole 8' (Geremi 84')); Crespo (Gallas 89'), Mutu

Unused substitutes: Sullivan, Melchiot

As It Stood Table

Pos Club Pl Pts
1 Arsenal 17 39
2 Chelsea 17 39
3 Manchester United 16 37
4 Fulham 17 25
5 Newcastle United 17 25
6 Charlton Athletic 17 24
7 Southampton 16 23
8 Birmingham City 16 23
9 Liverpool 16 22
10 Bolton Wanderers 17 22
11 Everton 17 20
12 Middlesbrough 16 20
13 Aston Villa 17 20
14 Manchester City 16 19
15 Tottenham Hotspur 16 18
16 Blackburn Rovers 17 17
17 Leicester City 17 16
18 Portsmouth 16 16
19 Leeds United 16 15
20 Wolverhampton Wanderers 16 11
Fulham (4-5-1)
  • 1Edwin Van der Sar
  • 2Moritz Volz
  • 16Zat Knight
  • 4Andy Melville
  • 3Jon Harley
  • 4Steed Malbranque
  • 5Sylvain Legwinski
  • 23Sean Davis
  • 10Lee Clark
  • 11Luis Boa Morte
  • 8Louis Saha
  • 12Mark Crossley
  • 17Martin Djetou
  • 24Alain Goma
  • 9Facundo Sava
  • 15Barry Hayles
Chelsea (4-4-2)
  • 23Carlo Cudicini
  • 2Glen Johnson
  • Marcel Desailly
  • 26John Terry
  • 18Wayne Bridge
  • Jesper Grönkjaer
  • 8Frank Lampard
  • 4Claude Makelele
  • 16Damien Duff
  • Hernán Crespo
  • Adrian Mutu
  • 1Neil Sullivan
  • 3William Gallas
  • 25Mario Melchiot
  • 10Joe Cole
  • 14Geremi