Chelsea 2-0 Fulham
MAURIZIO SARRI blamed nerves for Chelsea’s underwhelming performance in a 2-0 win over Premier League bottom club Fulham.
Pedro struck on four minutes after N’Golo Kante had dispossessed Jean Michael Seri, a passage of play described as a ‘present’ by Fulham boss Claudio Ranieri.
It took until the 82nd minute for substitute Ruben Loftus-Cheek to get Chelsea’s second and Sarri lamented their 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). But I think today we were a little bit tense.’
Chelsea had responded to their first loss of the competitive season, the 3-1 defeat at Tottenham last weekend which ended an 18-game unbeaten streak, with a Europa League victory over PAOK Salonika on Thursday.
‘I think in Tottenham 11 players played very badly and so I thought that today it was natural to give them another chance,’ Sarri said.
‘Of course, it wasn’t easy the days after Tottenham, for me, for the players. But we have talked too much about that. We lost a match after three months and a half. It can happen. The team reacted really very well in the Europa League.
‘Today was more important, of course, and in the mind of the players there was only the result.’
Former Chelsea and Leicester boss Ranieri was taking charge of Fulham for only the second time.
He felt the performance was better than his first, a 3-2 win over Southampton, but rued the concession of such an early goal.
‘It’s strange to say but I think we played much better today than in the Southampton match,’ said Ranieri.
‘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.
‘We created some problems, (and had) chances to draw the match. But I’m satisfied with how we reacted. Now we want to improve.’