Debutant Joao Felix’s red card proved costly as Carlos Vinicius earned Fulham a 2-1 win over west London rivals Chelsea that piles even more pressure on head coach Graham Potter.
Joao Felix was named in injury-hit Chelsea’s starting line-up for Thursday’s Premier League contest, a day after joining on loan from Atletico Madrid, and saw red for a lunge on Kenny Tete shortly before the hour mark.
Chelsea had fought their way back into the match at the time of that dismissal after Kalidou Koulibaly’s close-range finish cancelled out former Blues winger Willian’s first-half opener at Craven Cottage.
Fulham were without suspended top scorer Aleksandar Mitrovic, but Carlos Vinicius headed in his first Fulham goal in the 73rd minute to land his side a rare win in this fixture and make it six defeats in eight for Chelsea.
1 – João Félix is the first player to be sent off for Chelsea on their Premier League debut, and the first to do so for any club since Federico Fazio for Spurs vs Manchester City in October 2014. Welcome. pic.twitter.com/iRDENxeSLV
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 12, 2023
Bernd Leno did well to keep out an early Lewis Hall strike in a bright start from Chelsea, with Joao Felix looking particularly lively in the final third.
Fulham soon grew into the game and struck the crossbar through a powerful Bobby Decordova-Reid effort, shortly after Carlos Vinicius had a penalty shout rejected.
However, Willian gave Fulham the lead when Chelsea’s defence backed off and allowed the winger to fire away a shot that deflected off Trevoh Chalobah on its way through.
Leno continued to frustrate Chelsea, but he was almost caught out by a Mason Mount free-kick that struck the right-hand post and landed nicely for Koulibaly to squeeze over the line.
Chelsea lost another player to injury when Denis Zakaria hobbled off and then had Joao Felix dismissed for a studs-up challenge on Tete.
More misery was to follow for Chelsea and Potter as Andreas Pereira played in a delightful cross for Carlos Vinicius to get above Chalobah and power home a winning goal at the back post.
What does it mean? Fulham land rare win over Chelsea
This was the first time since August 1965 that Fulham entered a top-flight meeting with Chelsea sitting above their neighbours in the table.
Marco Silva’s men took full advantage of Joao Felix’s red card to land a first league win in this fixture in 21 attempts and just a second in their 31 Premier League meetings.
Chelsea’s form makes for grim reading, the Blues having now lost three in a row, and won just one of their past eight in all competitions to stay 10th in the table.
Unwanted history for Joao Felix
Joao Felix had been enjoying a positive debut up until his moment of madness when lunging in on Tete and leaving referee David Coote with little choice but to issue a red card.
He is the first Chelsea player to be sent off on their Premier League debut, and the first for any club since Federico Fazio for Tottenham against Manchester City in October 2014.
Willian adds to Potter’s Blues
Willian got Fulham up and running with a good strike, albeit one that took a big deflection on its way past Kepa Arrizabalaga, and opted not to celebrate out of respect to Chelsea.
The former Brazil international is the 26th player to score against Chelsea in the Premier League after previously playing for them in the competition – the most of any side.
Key Opta Facts:
– This was only Fulham’s fourth win in 53 top-flight matches against Chelsea, with today’s win ending a run of 20 Premier League games without a victory against the Blues since a 1-0 win in March 2006.
– Chelsea have 25 points in their opening 18 Premier League games this season, their fewest at this stage since 2015-16 (18), when going on to finish 10th that season. Their 21 goals are their lowest after 18 games since 1995-96 (17).
– Fulham have won four consecutive top-flight matches for the first time since April 1966 (a run of five). It was their first run of four consecutive Premier League wins, with tonight their 589th game in the competition.
– Potter is the first Chelsea manager to have two separate runs of three consecutive defeats in all competitions since Glenn Hoddle, who was in charge between 1993 and 1996, with today just Potter’s 19th match in charge of the Blues.
– Fulham are the first promoted club to have as many as 31 points after 19 Premier League matches since Wigan Athletic in 2005-06 (34).
Potter will hope to still be in charge when Chelsea host another London rival in Crystal Palace on Sunday, the same day that Fulham travel to high-flying Newcastle United.
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