Clint Dempsey's late equaliser secures Fulham a deserved point against an unconvincing Chelsea
Fulham: Schwarzer, Kelly, Hangeland, Hughes, John Arne Riise, Duff, Murphy, Diarra, Frei, Dembele, Dempsey. Subs: Stockdale, Orlando Sa, Kasami, Senderos, Etuhu, Briggs, Kacaniklic.
Chelsea: Cech, Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Bertrand, Mikel, Meireles, Kalou, Lampard, Ramires, Torres. Subs: Turnbull, Romeu, Mata, Drogba, Malouda, Bosingwa, Sturridge.
Referee: Mark Clattenburg.
Hello world! I'm afraid I've spent the last five hours researching a forthcoming feature in the 50 Stunning Olympic Moments series on the massacre of Israeli competitors and support staff at the 1972 Munich Olympics. This has been a fascinating if rather unconventional way to spend my Easter Monday, but may have dulled my comedy instincts, normally so finely honed.
But that won't stop me looking forward to this derby, between two sides in decent form. With Newcastle winning today and Tottenham losing, Chelsea know they will leap into the top four if they win (does a bit of mental arithmatic) by two or more goals (I think). Victory for Fulham will take them above Liverpool to eighth. Anyway, some teams:
You'll note six – six! – changes to Chelsea's team from the flukey victory over Wigan on Saturday. John Terry is playing through his cracked ribs, Frank Lampard returns from a thigh injury, Juan Mata gets a night off and Fernando Torres is back in. Fulham's Bryan Ruiz is out for the rest of the season after breaking a metatarsal. Danny Murphy and Kerim Frei come into the team.
Fernando Torres back in the starting line-up after coming on with half an hour to go on Saturday. I loved his match-winning (eventually) volley in that match – lovely technique, great power. Obviously, with his luck being as it is, it hit the post, but an offside Juan Mata bundled it over the line. Is the real Torres on his way back?
The teams are coming out now, so action is imminent.
1 min: Peeeeeeeep! Chelsea kick off, going from right to left as the television cameras are looking at it.
2 mins: Mostly Chelsea so far, as both teams feel their way in.
4 mins: Mikel thwacks a 70-yard pass out of play. Neither penalty area seeing much action thus far, unless you count balls bouncing through to the goalkeeper.
8 mins: Of course the conditions may have something to do with that – it's been raining all day and it's still going now. Plenty of what is technically known as "zip" in the pitch.
10 mins: A couple of recent "attacks" – a Fulham corner claimed by Cech, and a Chelsea throw-in flicked on by Torres and claimed by Schwarzer.
11 mins: A better effort by Torres is foiled by a heroic Hangeland block which sends the ball flying well high.
15 mins: Mikel wrestles Dempsey to the ground in the middle of the pitch having been foxed by the American's smart turn.
17 mins: To all intents and purposes nothing at all has happened in this match, but it's happening at a fair old pace, which is something.
19 mins: The ball is played into the feet of Diarra, bursting into the penalty area. He goes violently to ground at the first sign of a challenge, but there's not much of an appeal and play rapidly continues with Chelsea in possession.
21 mins: Riise's cross finds Duff in the area, but he tries to cushion the ball into the path of Dempsey when perhaps he should just have shot.
24 mins: Meireles goes to challenge Riise on the left wing, but pulls out of the challenge. Riise goes over anyway, and Meireles gets booked. There was not even the slightest hint of a foul there, a good two feet of clear air between the players at their closest point. Yet another Easter refereeing howler, if not a decisive one.
25 mins: CHANCE! Dembélé cuts the ball back for Dempsey, whose shot goes straight to Cech.
26 mins: SHOT! An excellent run from Frei ends with a decent low shot from 20 yards which Cech has to turn wide.
30 mins: Half an hour gone here, and not only has there not been an outrageously wrong offside decision, there hasn't been any kind of offside decision at all. A great evening for the linos, so far.
31 min: Frank Lampard becomes the latest Chelsea player to send a long-range shot hopelessly and humiliatingly high, wide or, in this case, both.
33 mins: Bertrand's 20-yard shot flies wide via Kelly's right arm. A couple of Chelsea players claim a penalty, but the arm was just hanging idly by the player's side, not much of a case there.
34 mins: Dempsey finds Duff in absollutely acres of space on the right, but the cross when it comes is low and poor and cut out by the nearest defender.
36 mins: Cech's clearance slams straight into Dempsey's head, about 15 yards away. Which is one way to stop him, I suppose.
40 mins: Fulham passing the ball around very nicely. After a couple of minutes spent passing it across the defence they zip forward, where Cahill successfully tackles Dembélé and is booked for the privilege.
42 mins: "Much as his dismal haircut is the second most unsettling thing about Chelsea's physical appearance after Ivanovic's genetically-modified backside, I'm sorry for him as that yellow was a joke," writes someone called Flannel Lamborghini. "Retrospective punishment for diving, via bans, is the only way. Isn't it?" Yes, I think some kind of retrospective punishment for simulation is required, and that the referee simply cannot be expected to judge every situation perfectly in real time. Oh...
44 mins: Penalty! Kalou goes down in the penalty area as Murphy dives in.
45 mins: Not sure how much contact there was, but Murphy's challenge was ill-considered at best. Seemed two-footed as well.
GOAL! Fulham 0 Chelsea 1 (Lampard 45pen) That's Frank Lampard's 150th Premier League goal, which is an incredible achievement, the ball struck low and hard to the keeper's right. Schwarzer went the right way, but couldn't touch it. The first meaningful thing Lampard's done tonight.
45+2 mins: Peeeeeep! It's half-time!
Half-time: A decent first 45 minutes, played at impressive pace, but with hardly anything by way of goalmouth incident – it's hardly a surprise that the goal's come from a penalty. Sky have treated us to lots of replays of the penalty incident, and it's one of those where even if there was no contact – and it's far from certain – it was close enough, and the challenge was stupid enough, to make the referee's decision inevitable. But Fulham have looked the better side for much of the game, and seemed more likely to create something from open play. Anything could happen from here...
46 mins: Peeeeeeep! Fulham get the second half under way.
47 mins: A pass from Riise is described as being "to Frei", but something about the way it's enunciated – with the emphasis on the first word – brings Kajagoogoo to mind.
48 mins: Apparently the referee told Danny Murphy that the penalty wasn't given for his challenge, but for some other reason. This is either a) rubbish or b) extremely puzzling.
49 mins: Yet another long-range shot from Chelsea, this from Chelsea's left boot. It starts out on target, but swings away from goal and wide.
50 mins: Bertrand fizzes a cross from the left which Lampard just fails to reach, possibly because Hangeland was physically preventing him from doing so.
52 mins: Ramires gets the ball on the right corner of the penalty area, cuts inside and works a decent shooting chance, but his shot isn't very well struck, and what sting it has is taken out of it by Hangeland's half-block. Schwarzer collects.
54 mins: Meireles shoots high after Torres's neat lay-off. Chelsea have threatened more in the first 10 minutes of this half than the whole of the last one.
59 mins: Frei's twinkle toes are winning Fulham a series of free-kicks, one of them bringing Mikel a booking. And I would like to cordially invite you to submit suggestions for a unique MBM caption competition, after I found this too-tempting-to-resist picture. I say competition, but there's no prize, obviously.
60 mins: "Kajagoogoo (47 mins) were very big in Poland and mentioning Limahl's name can still turn women of a certain age here all misty eyed," writes Tim Hazell, in Poznan. "Depeche Mode and Shakin' Stevens were also massive. Shakey still plays here from time to time in fact." That actually is interesting, Tim. What's the point of moving to Poland if you still can't be shot of Shakin' Stevens?
62 mins: Lovely pass from Frei finds Riise pegging down the left, and the Norwegian's outside-of-the-left-foot curler flies narrowly wide. Would have been an absolute peach of a goal, that one.
63 mins: Murphy is booked for a foul on Lampard, who slams the resulting free-kick into the wall.
66 mins: Frank Lampard's lovely cross, played from the left with the outside of his right boot, is cleared by Riise as Mikel prepared to nod in.
67 mins: Caption competition entries are trickling in now. This from Alix Sharkey in LA: "Vintage, you say? Funny, I bought one just like it to celebrate my last hat trick."
70 mins: Chelsea bring on Juan Mata for Raul Meireles. "Kajagoogoo was the first gig my then girlfriend's little sister went to, I can still hear her 'Oh God! Limaaaaaahl! He's luvverly!' upon returning home," writes Paul McCormick. "This has to be said in a thick scouse accent for maximum effect. I'm pleased that so many Premier League footballers continue to pay homage to the diminutive frontman with their haircuts."
72 mins: Inevitable caption competition entry, from Herman Hooker in Atlanta: "You see Fernando, that's the amount of time you have gone without scoring a goal." And this from Rishabh Bhandari: "Take it easy Nando, It's only 119hrs since your last goal – you've got another 753hrs before it's time for your next one."
74 mins: Danny Murphy is coming off, with Dickson Etuhu replacing him. Another caption, from Mike Seymour: "It's been how long since I last scored? Is that normal time or Fergie time?"
76 mins: Fulham's best moment of the half sees Duff exchange passes with Dempsey, but his cross is headed away from danger by Ivanovic. This from Ian Copestake: "But Mr Clattenburg, I don't agree that time is necessarily linear."
79 mins: The teams play comedy repeated possession-transfer for a few moments, before Dempsey thunders a long-range belter straight into Cech's midriff.
81 mins: Fulham replace Diarra with Orlando Sa. Lots of Mickey Mouse-related caption suggestions, among them Stephen Pandos's "Fernando it is not half time until Mickey's big hand gets to 9". And Jim Walker: "They don't make Mickey Mouse watches now, but here's the replacement, a Torres watch."
GOAL! Fulham 1 Chelsea 1 (Dempsey, 82 mins) CHANCE! SAVE! CORNER! GOAL! From corner No1 Aaron Hughes's header is brilliantly saved by Cech, and from corner No2 Demsey, unmarked, heads the ball across goal and in at the far post.
83 mins: Chelsea immediately bring Drogba on for Ramires.
85 mins: Riise is played in but his first touch is poor and takes him away from goal, and Cahill blocks his cross. From the corner, Sa heads straight at Cech. Hugo Costello: "Mierda! Me falta el ultimo episodo de Game of Thrones…"
87 mins: Fulham are the team pressing for a winner at the moment. Alex Hanton: "It's about value Fernando. For example this watch cost approximately £50m less than you and yet it could still play a vital role in this season's title race."
88 mins: Fulham bring on Alex Kacaniklic for the extremely impressive Kerim Frei. Anne Carlton: "Huh, there really is a separate dial for Fergie Time!"
90 mins: We'll have three minutes of stoppage time here. Robbie Borowczyk: "There can't be that much time left! Can't you see this rain's playing buggery with my hairdo!"
90+1 mins: It looks like Dempsey will be stripped of his goal – consensus seems to be that it was heading wide until it clipped Cahill.
90+3 mins: A bit of huffing and puffing but no actual chances later, the final whistle goes. Wilson Beuys: "Yeah, nice bit of schmutter, isn't it? Frank buys one for all the refs who give him a pen."
Final thoughts: Probably the right result after a match that was closely contested throughout. There were very few chances at either end, and I can't think of a single clear-cut opportunity created by Chelsea in the entire match, but for their penalty. They did not look like likely Champions League qualifiers tonight, let alone likely Champions League winners. Fulham, meanwhile, continue to impress – and this without Ruiz or Pogrebnyak. Danny Murphy has just described this as their best performance of the season.
I'm looking forward to finding out the truth behind that penalty award, following Sky's revelation that it had nothing to do with Danny Murphy's silly tackle. Simply, I don't believe a word of it – there is no other convincing explanation.
And a good stat from @OptaJoe on Twitter: Fulham have gained more points from losing positions at home this season (nine) than any other Premier League club.