4th March, 2019
Only a few days back, they were both at the end of heavy criticisms alongside the manager but yesterday, goalkeeper Kepa and mid-fielder Jorginho were more or less the heroes as Chelsea brushed aside Fulham 2-1 in an away match in a Premiership fixture.
Jorginho scored a beautiful goal in the match as Kepa produced some real stunning saves to ensure a very important win for the “Blues” as the chase for a place in next year’s Champions’ League Competition continues.
By the way, the goal was Jorginho’s first goal from open play in the Premier League as Chelsea moved back to within two points of the top four.
Fulham, playing their first game since Claudio Ranieri was sacked and replaced by interim boss Scott Parker, put up a scrap at times and even cancelled out Gonzalo Higuain’s opener when Calum Chambers equalised.
Jorginho however put Chelsea back in front and, despite Fulham’s noble efforts, the Blues managed to hold on, leaving Parker’s men 10 points adrift of safety.
Kepa almost embarrassed himself 18 minutes into his return, dropping a routine cross right in front of Ryan Babel, but fortunately he was able to pounce before the Netherlands international could punish him.
Minutes later, Chelsea capitalised on that let-off – Higuain steering Cesar Azpilicueta’s low cross in with a first-time finish.
Fulham were able to score an equaliser seven minutes later when an unmarked Chambers met Babel’s cross following a short corner with a controlled finish at the back post.
However, Chelsea restored their lead in the 31st minute, as Eden Hazard teed up Jorginho on the edge of the box, who found the top-right corner.
The game continued to be open after the break – Willian and Aleksandar Mitrovic both going fairly close within 15 minutes of the restart.
Kepa rescued Chelsea with a fine flying save to parry Mitrovic’s header, securing victory and a hint of redemption, before Ryan Sessegnon saw an injury-time equaliser correctly ruled out for offside.
With this result, everything points to the battle for the third and fourth Champions League spots being quite thrilling towards the end of the season. Just five points now separate Spurs in third and sixth-place Chelsea, meaning there could be plenty more twists and turns in the final weeks.
One would be tempted to ask where Hazard was in all of this, right? Well, even though it was not his best display ever, he was certainly a leading light for Chelsea, tormenting Denis Odoi constantly before his late withdrawal, while he set up Jorginho’s winner with a good run and pass. That made him only the third Chelsea player to both score and assist 50 goals in the Premier League.