WHETHER this will be remembered as a Mark Robins goal remains to be seen.
But the importance of Mason Mount’s winner with just 12 minutes left cannot be understated.
Mason Mount scored the crucial winner to relieve the pressure on LampardCredit: Reuters
The midfielder brilliantly hammered the ball into the cornerCredit: Reuters
The home-grown midfielder – and not one of the club’s expensive summer signings – struck to give a winner Chelsea did not deserve.
Striker Robins, an Old Trafford youth product, is remembered as the man who saved Alex Ferguson’s job when he scored the winner in an FA Cup tie against Nottingham Forest in 1990.
Had Lampard drawn in this west London derby – or even lost – he probably would not have been sacked, but with Roman Abramovich, you never know.
Because despite playing against ten men for all of the second half, following Antonee Robinson’s red card just before the break, Chelsea were really poor.
Fulham defended courageously and impressively but still, you would have expected Lampard’s team to actually manage a shot.
But they failed until Mount, Chelsea’s best player by a mile, showed a cool head.
He also played the captain’s role by sticking his nose into an incident that saw his own skipper, Cesar Azpilicueta, fall theatrically to the floor after a rash challenge from Robinson, which was enough for referee Peter Bankes to show the red.
Mount was a true leader but Lampard needs a few of them and he can only hope this win – like that famous goal by Robins – helps the team rediscover their confidence.
Mount and Azpiliceuta celebrate the midfielder’s crucial strikeCredit: Tom Jenkins-The Guardian
Antonee Robinson was sent off for this lunge on Cesar AzpilicuetaCredit: Sky Sports
Robinson was given his marching orders on the stroke of half-timeCredit: Getty Images – Getty
This was only their second league win in seven matches so we will see at Leicester on Tuesday whether they have sorted themselves out.
Lampard needed a win at all costs against Fulham, even though it was against Scott Parker, one of his old mates.
There is no doubt that Fulham, who lost arguably their best player with the sending off, were good value for a sixth successive top-flight draw.
If they keep playing like this, Parker’s men will stay up. But where Chelsea will finish is a tougher question. They have the class. But they are also a bit dysfunctional.
Yet they need to keep Olivier Giroud, despite his frustrations at not playing enough, who made a nuisance of himself before running out of steam.
Afte Mount made a nuisance of himself in the home area, Giroud tried an outrageous shot with the outside of his left boot but the effort was always curling wide. He was, however, correct that a corner – not a goal-kick – should have been awarded as home keeper Alphonse Areola got a touch.
In fairness to Fulham, who have now lost 14 and drawn one of their previous 15 London derbies in the Premier League, they showed plenty of urgency and craft going forward.
In the best chance of the half, Ademola Lookman, Robinson and Kenny Tete combined brilliantly but Ivan Cavaleiro’s finish was terrible and the ball hit his standing leg.
Thiago Silva throws his shirt to a workman working on the new standCredit: PA:Press Association
Frank Lampard was feeling the heat on the touchlineCredit: Andy Hooper-The Daily Mail
From being potentially a goal up, Fulham were a man down. Robinson was silly to dive in on the tackle but Azpilicueta made a meal of it. As the Spaniard was on the floor screaming, a stunned-looking Robinson was confronted by Mount and a few other players piled in. After a quick VAR check, Robinson was heading down the tunnel towards the Cottage
As you would expect, Chelsea spent the second half camped in the Fulham half but apart from one shot by Zyech – saved by Areola – they simply could not find a way past Parker’s well-organised troops.
There was a brief panic at the back when Azpilicuata and Edouard Mendy delivered a cock-up they got away with. Mendy was not expecting a terrible back-pass from Azpilicueta and his half-hit clearance fell to Cavaleiro but the shot was blocked by Thiago Silva.
Lampard made more changes with Timo Werner replacing Giroud and Callum Hudson-Odoi coming on for Ziyech.
And within a couple of minutes of his introduction, Hudson-Odoi played a part on the right before switching play to Ben Chilwell.
Hudson-Odoi helped change the game when he was introducedCredit: Getty Images – Getty
The England full-back delivered a good cross, although Parker would have expected Tete to cut it out, and Areola palmed the ball away from the goal but it fell perfectly for Mount, who drilled the ball into the corner.
You sense the relief among the away team players and at least they could count on Mount. The same does not apply to Werner, though, who tore clear in injury time and then managed a laughably-bad shot.
So, Chelsea still found a way to win but it was still unimpressive. Lampard, though, will hope that he will be able to look back on this win and see it as a turning point.
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