LONDON: A late goal from Mason Mount gave Chelsea a laboured 1-0 win at 10-man Fulham in the Premier League on Saturday, easing some of the pressure off their manager Frank Lampard.
The result provisionally lifted Chelsea two places up to seventh on 29 points from 18 games, with Southampton, who visit Leicester City later on Saturday, able to leapfrog them.
Fulham, who suffered defeat after five successive draws, stayed 18th on 12 points from 17 games with a seemingly uphill task to avoid relegation.
Chelsea, who had won only one of their previous six games, dominated but lacked bite and were twice fortunate not to fall behind with Fulham striker Ivan Cavaleiro guilty of some poor finishing.
Home goalkeeper Alphonse Areola made two saves and Mount rattled the crossbar for Chelsea midway through the first half before Fulham had Antonee Robinson sent off in the 44th minute for a reckless tackle on Cesar Azpilicueta.
Several minutes earlier, Cavaleiro had the goal at his mercy after a flowing move left him with time and space to pick his spot but the Portuguese scuffed his shot wide from eight metres.
With Chelsea lacking any edge up front after the break despite their numerical advantage, Thiago Silva came to their rescue when he blocked Cavaleiro’s shot with keeper Edouard Mendy stranded after a defensive mix-up.
Mount finally broke the deadlock in the 78th minute with an unstoppable shot inside the near post after Areola could only palm an inviting Ben Chilwell cross from the left straight into the England midfielder’s stride.
Substitute Timo Werner should have added a second for Chelsea in stoppage time but fired woefully wide with only Areola to beat after racing clear from the halfway line.
Mount acknowledged Chelsea were relieved after grinding out the victory despite a toothless performance.
“We all knew we needed a win, we put that pressure on ourselves,” he told Sky Sports.
“We look at the quality in the changing room, we knew we need to win games. It has been a difficult last couple of weeks, but we put pressure on ourselves to win against a good team who have been playing well.”