Fulham 1 Chelsea 3
Andre Schurrle’s second-half hat-trick kept Chelsea top of the Premier League and Fulham firmly rooted to the bottom.
The German showed superb composure to finish three times after excellent through-balls in a 16-minute spell that once again highlighted the Whites’ defensive frailties and exactly why they are in serious relegation trouble.
Steve Sidwell and Clint Dempsey went close as the hosts enjoyed the better of the first half, but Chelsea striker Fernando Torres could also have scored twice before heading against the post just after half-time.
John Heitinga scored a late consolation for Fulham when he tapped home from inside the box, but his side remain winless in the league since New Year’s Day.
Schurrle had impressed in the midweek Champions League stalemate with Galatasaray along with Torres and Ramires, and all three retained their places in the staring line-up.
And Torres, who scored Chelsea’s goal in the 1-1 draw in Istanbul, almost scored again when he pounced on a mistake by Maarten Stekelenburg and fizzed a shot just wide before testing the keeper again with a volley just before the break.
New Fulham manager Felix Magath handed on-loan forward Dempsey a rare start in the player’s final game before returning to Seattle Sounders, and dropped Lewis Holtby to the bench despite the German’s impressive performances since joining on loan from Tottenham.
And Dempsey went close when he headed Pajtim Kasami’s cross early on before Sidwell sliced a shot off-target from distance.
But the Whites also lost captain Brede Hangeland just 15 minutes into the game after he appeared to clash heads with team-mate Kieran Richardson, and they looked shaky at the back after the Norwegian was replaced by Dan Burn.
Chelsea improved after the break and, after Torres headed against the upright from Eden Hazard’s skilful cross, Schurrle was put through by the Belgian to tuck home his first on 52 minutes.
Schurrle then latched on to Oscar’s pass as the Blues began to dominate, and fired past Stekelenburg again before Torres set up the German for his third five minutes later.
Heitinga capitalised on confusion in the Chelsea box following Holtby’s corner and poked into the corner from six yards out, but Fulham rarely threatened thereafter and suffered their first defeat under new boss Magath in his first home game in charge.
Fulham (4-4-2):Stekelenburg; Riether, Hangeland (Burn 15), Heitinga, Richardson; Dejagah, Parker (Karagounis 79), Sidwell, Kasami (Holtby 62); Dempsey, Bent.
Subs not used: Stockdale, Riise, Kvist, Rodallega.
Chelsea (4-2-3-1):Cech; Ivanovic, Terry, Cahill, Azpilicueta; Matic, Ramires; Schurrle (Luiz 87), Oscar (Mikel 78), Hazard; Torres (Ba 82)
Subs not used: Schwarzer, Cole, Lampard, Willian.