Fulham 1 Chelsea 2
Jorginho’s lovely strike was enough to win the west London derby for Chelsea but much-improved Fulham pushed them all the way.
The relegation-threatened Whites, in their first game under caretaker boss Scott Parker, hit back through Calum Chambers’ equaliser after Gonzalo Higuain had put Chelsea ahead.
Chelsea were back in front by the interval but had to cling on as Fulham put them under sustained pressure in the second half.
The defeat means second-from-bottom Fulham remain 10 points from safety.
But Parker, placed at the helm following the sacking of Claudio Ranieri, can take plenty encouragement from their performance.
Chelsea, whose victory moved them to within a point of fifth-placed Arsenal and two points behind fourth-placed Manchester United, with a game in hand on both teams, went in front on 21 minutes.
Cesar Azpilicueta linked up with Willian on the right and sent the ball in low towards Higuain, who netted with an emphatic first-time finish.
It came shortly after Fulham would have gone ahead had Ryan Babel realised the recalled Kepa had dropped a routine ball into the box.
The Dutchman was facing the opposite direction and would have had a simple tap in had he been aware of Kepa’s mistake.
Kepa redeemed himself with a fine save to keep out Aleksandar Mitrovic’s volley from Ryan Sessegnon’s cross.
But the Spaniard had no chance when Chambers was left unmarked and brought the home side level with a far-post volley from Babel’s cross.
However, Chelsea were ahead again four minutes later.
Hazard cut in from the left and laid the ball across to Jorginho, who superbly steered his shot into the top corner.
Kepa, back in the side having been dropped against Tottenham for refusing to be substituted during the Carabao Cup final, produced a superb last-minute save to keep out Mitrovic’s header.
And the home fans thought Sessegnon had equalised when he netted in the final seconds, but the goal was disallowed, seemingly for offside or a foul on Andreas Christensen in the build up.
Fulham: Rico, Bryan, Chambers, Ream, Odoi, McDonald (Anguissa 73), Cairney (Vietto 80), Nordtveit, Sessegnon, Mitrovic, Babel (Ayite 71).
Subs not used: Fabri, Le Marchand, Christie, Seri.
Chelsea: Kepa, Emerson, Rudiger, Christensen, Azpilicueta, Jorginho (Kovacic 69), Kante, Barkley (Loftus-Cheek 78), Willian, Hazard (Pedro 74), Higuain
Subs not used: Caballero, Giroud, Hudson-Odoi, Luiz.