Fulham got Saturday's SW6 derby at Stamford Bridge underway and Roy Hodgson's side were dealt an early blow when Nicolas Anelka opened the scoring inside the first minute of play.
Florent Malouda stated the move that led to Anelka's goal. The winger drifted down the left flank towards the by-line before playing a square ball across goal into the path of Anelka. The French international played a neat one-two with Drogba inside the area and made no mistake with his finish from close range.
Roy Hodgson's side responded in convincing fashion. Three minutes after Anelka's strike Erik Nevland brought the game level with a low drive from the right hand side of the area.
Fulham's equaliser was created by Danny Murphy, who threaded a perfectly weighted through ball into Nevland's path. The striker peeled off Chelsea's back-line and sprinted clear for a one-on-one with Cech. Nevland's strike from the right hand side of the area was clinical and the ball flew past the Chelsea keeper and Fulham were level.
The game remained level until the ninth minute when Malouda regained the lead for Chelsea with a shot across goal from the left hand side of the area. A cross from the right evaded Fulham's defence and Malouda's strike arrowed into the far corner of the net.
Chelsea were fortunate to keep their lead intact as Fulham created two good opportunities on goal before the match had reached the twenty-minute mark. Nevland went closest for Fulham, firing over Cech's bar with a dipping volley from the edge of the area.
The home side looked to take a grip on the game by dominating possession, but for all their neat interplay in the middle of the park, Chelsea could not find a way through, with Fulham's midfield working hard to cut the supply line to Anelka and Drogba.
Fulham produced a superb counter attack in the 28th minute, which caught Chelsea on the back foot, but Erik Nevland failed to capitalise as he was played through on goal.
The home side were caught off guard when Konchesky dispossessed Drogba in the area with a superb sliding tackle. Murphy set Etuhu free and the midfielder sprinted a good 40 yards before releasing Nevland. As the Norwegian set to shoot Chelsea's defence recovered to dispossess the striker on the edge of the area.
After 34 minutes of play Roy Hodgson was forced to make the first substitution of the game. Goalscorer Erik Nevland was clearly struggling with an injury and was replaced by Diomansy Kamara in attack.
Kamara certainly made Chelsea's defence aware of his presence following his introduction. After a crunching tackle on Mikel in the middle of the park the striker dispossessed Terry on the left by-line and set Pantsil free down the right. The right back sent in a cross but Fulham could not find the cutting edge to capitalise.
Five minutes before the break Chelsea created two good opportunities to extend their lead. The home side's most productive play during the first half came down the right flank and once again a ball to the back post found an unmarked Malouda. The winger's strike was deflected away for a corner but from the resulting set piece Lampard threatened with a fierce drive from the edge of the area.
Moments before half-time Essien had the home crowd on their feet with a fierce drive from 25 yards. Fortunately the ball flew just wide of Schwarzer's left hand post and Chelsea went into the break with a two-one lead.
Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink made two changes to his line-up for the second half. Ivanovic replaced Alex in central defence and Essien made way for Ballack in midfield.
Fulham created the first chance of the second period. After 50 minutes of play Bobby Zamora beat the home side's offside trap to sprint clear down the right flank. The striker's cross found Kamara 10 yards from goal but the Senegalese striker failed to make a clean connection with the ball and opportunity was lost.
Chelsea responded immediately and when Lampard was set free on the left hand side of the area he looked odds on to increase the home side's lead. Fortunately John Pantsil produced a superb sliding tackle to deny the England midfielder as he set to shoot.
Fulham could not prevent Didier Drogba extending Chelsea's lead after 53 minutes. The striker peeled off Fulham's back-line to latch onto a through ball down the right. Drogba raced into the area and fired his right footed shot across Schwarzer and into the far corner of the net.
The game was held up for several minutes as the hour mark approached when Drogba remained grounded following a challenge in the middle of the park. The striker returned to the field of play following treatment but not before Schwarzer had produced a fingertip save to deny Lampard's free-kick from the edge of the area.
Despite the deficit Fulham continued to look for a way back into the game and after 65 minutes Kamara went within a whisker with a fierce drive from 25 yards. The striker's right footed drive whistled past Cech's left hand post. Two minutes later a defensive error almost set Zamora free for a one-on-one but Cech was alert to the danger and smothered the ball at the striker's feet.
Chelsea continued to threaten down the flanks and Nicolas Anelka produced a fine turn and run down the right before delivering to Drogba at the near post. Drogba beat his marker to fire towards goal but his effort went wide of Schwarzer's near post.
Roy Hodgson introduced Olivier Dacourt fifteen minutes from time. The former French international replaced Bobby Zamora who appeared to have taken a knock moments earlier.
Drogba turned provider for Anelka eight minutes from time. The striker crossed from the left and Anelka met the ball with a headed effort across goal that flew just wide of Schwarzer far post.
Fulham persevered during the closing stages but could not reduce the deficit and Chelsea rode out three-one winners on Saturday at Stamford Bridge.