Dempsey earns derby point for Fulham

Chelsea 1 Fulham 1

Clint Dempsey’s goal earned a derby point for Fulham and added to their neighbours’ woes.

Chelsea, who began the day 11 points behind Premier League leaders Manchester City, went ahead early in the second half when Juan Mata fired home following Ashley Cole’s cross.

But Bryan Ruiz produced a lovely piece of skill and crossed for Dempsey to equalise, before David Stockdale kept the home side at bay with several impressive saves.

Following their 5-0 hammering at home to Manchester United, this was much better from Fulham, who might have snatched a victory had substitute Pajtim Kasami done better than shoot straight at keeper Petr Cech when presented with a late chance.

Fulham made a determined start and missed an early opportunity when Orlando Sa headed Stephen Kelly’s cross wide of the target, before Fernando Torres was denied by Stockdale at the other end.

Mata put Chelsea ahead.

Torres showed a glimpse of his class by cushioning Mata’s pass on his chest, but keeper Stockdale did superbly to keep out the Spaniard’s volley.

Torres and Frank Lampard were restored to the Blues starting line-up, while Sa played as a lone striker for Fulham, whose matchday did squad did not include Bobby Zamora or Andrew Johnson.

In their absence, Whites boss Martin Jol included Dempsey and Moussa Dembele in a five-man midfield in a bid to frustrate Andre Villas-Boas’ team.

Fulham managed to do just that in the first half, but went behind only two minutes into the second.

Torres was unable to control Cole’s cross and the ball instead fell to Mata, who netted from the edge of the penalty area.

But the visitors hit back nine minutes later – and were helped by yet more of the poor defending which has plagued Chelsea this season.

Cole allowed to Ruiz to turn away from him, and Dempsey nipped between John Terry and David Luiz to meet the Costa Rican’s delivery and score his sixth league goal of the campaign.

Stockdale, in for the injured Mark Schwarzer, then enhanced his growing reputation by ensuring the game ended in a draw – Chelsea’s third in a row.

He pushed over Daniel Sturridge’s 20-yarder and from the resulting corner pulled off another impressive stop to thwart Florent Malouda.

Stockdale also tipped over Raul Meireles’ header and twice denied Didier Drogba in the dying minutes.

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