Fulham self-sabotage against Chelsea with sloppiness so costly in defensive meltdown

Dejected: Fulham were the cause of their own downfall against Chelsea on Monday  (PA)
Dejected: Fulham were the cause of their own downfall against Chelsea on Monday (PA)

Perhaps Fulham simply faced Chelsea on the night that things were always destined to click into gear for Mauricio Pochettino’s side.

Or perhaps Fulham should accept rather more blame than that. Perhaps they were doing a perfectly adequate job of keeping their high-intensity visitors at bay for the first 18 minutes, before conceding two defensively poor goals in the space of two minutes — allowing Chelsea to stroll to victory.

As bleak as the second version of reality may appear, it is this version which Fulham’s disgruntled home support were buying into. And manager Marco Silva, ever the constructive critic, will have been similarly disappointed with quite how easily his side self-sabotaged their odds of collecting a result here.

After two successive clean sheets in the Premier League, they were brought back down to earth in the space of 82 seconds at Craven Cottage.

First Timothy Castagne did not close Levi Colwill down, allowing the England defender to cross for Mykhailo Mudryk’s first goal in a Chelsea shirt.

Then Tim Ream passed the ball into Cole Palmer’s path, was gifted it back, but booted it against Armando Broja’s foot, and stared at the turf in humiliation as it crashed past Bernd Leno.

Those individual errors were inexplicable, unexplainable, unacceptable. As the thunder and lightning rumbled and sparked in the distance, Fulham were enduring one of their worst halves of football for quite some time.

To their credit, they rallied at the break and returned a much better and more cohesive side than they finished the first half. But the thing about conceding twice in two minutes in the Premier League is that it gives you a mountain to climb.

And, indeed, it proved a Sisyphean task for Silva’s side. No matter how many chances they created — and they did — they had left themselves with too much work to do.

Robert Sanchez denied Sasa Lukic and Willian, just as Fulham had earlier denied themselves the chance to pick up a result here. Sloppiness is costly.