Goal-shy Mykhailo Mudryk scored his first professional goal for Chelsea on Monday, sparking a 2-0 victory over Fulham that boosted team morale.
Mauricio Pochettino’s injury-plagued squad visited their near neighbours’ home with only two points and five goals to their name, as reported by AFP.
Early missed opportunities hinted at recurring problems, but in the 18th minute, Ukrainian winger Mudryk scored his first goal in a Chelsea shirt, and two minutes later, Armando Broja added a second.
The victory moves Chelsea up to the middle of the table and relieves some of the pressure off of new manager Mauricio Pochettino, whose squad had gone scoreless in their previous three Premier League games.
The former Tottenham and PSG manager’s nerves were calmed by his team’s quickfire first-half double, after he had pleaded for ruthlessness in front of goal.
“It’s important for us to build our confidence and trust in ourselves,” Pochettino said, according to Sky Sports.
“The performance was excellent; I am overjoyed for the players, and we ultimately received just rewards for our efforts.”
A Fresh Begining
Chelsea’s strong start at Craven Cottage was not capitalised upon.
Broja, a forward for Albania, was making his first start since November 2022, and he wasted a golden opportunity in the first few minutes of the game by blasting his shot high and wide from an offside position.
However, in the 18th minute, the visitors’ efforts paid off when a long pass from the back found Levi Colwill on the left side of the box.
Mudryk received a pass from Colwill and controlled the ball with his chest before finishing calmly for his first goal for the club since his January transfer from Shakhtar Donetsk.
Broja scored Chelsea’s second goal after Fulham centre back Tim Ream gave the ball to Chelsea’s newest player, Cole Palmer, due to a defensive blunder.
The former Manchester City player played the ball forward, where it was promptly kicked by Ream against Broja and, to everyone’s horror, sent back into the goal.
Chelsea was playing with verve, and Enzo Fernandez’s shot just missed the goal when it should have gone in.
The home team had no shots on goal in the first half, but Raul Jimenez nearly scored on a header from an outswinging corner by Andreas Pereira as time expired.
In the second half, Mudryk was replaced by defensive back Ian Maatsen.
After halftime, Fulham manager Marco Silva made a double substitution, bringing on strikers Alex Iwobi and Carlos Vinicius.
After Vinicius had headed over, Chelsea custodian Robert Sanchez had a heart-in-mouth moment when Pereira intercepted his goal kick.
After Fulham goalkeeper Bernd Leno made a smart save from Fernandez, Chelsea’s Maatsen thundered a strike against the left upright, and the Blues came agonisingly close to extending their lead.
Tom Cairney’s pass to fellow substitute Sasa Lukic inside the penalty area presented Fulham with a golden opportunity to get one back, but Lukic’s shot was straight at Sanchez.
Chelsea’s resilient performance allowed them to move up to 11th place, ahead of Fulham due to their superior goal differential.