Sports Desk, May 1 (EFE).- Chelsea downed Fulham 2-0 Saturday as Kai Havertz got his first Premier League brace since coming over to the London club from Bayer Leverkusen last summer.
The fourth-place Blues extended their lead over West Ham United to 6 points and they have a 7-point edge on Liverpool in the scramble for a top-four finish.
Fulham, languishing in 18th, are 9 points from safety with four games left.
Prior to Saturday’s contest, Havertz, who cost the Blues a reported 71 million pounds ($98 million), had scored just twice in the English top-flight.
But the 21-year-old German may have come into his best form at just the right time as Chelsea prepare to host Real Madrid in the second leg of their 1-1 Champions League semifinal tie.
Indeed, Havertz’s inclusion in the starting 11 was a consequence of coach Thomas Tuchel’s decision to rest a number of players, including the author of the goal in Madrid, Christian Pulisic, ahead of next Wednesday’s showdown with the Blancos at Stamford Bridge.
The former Leverkusen man breathed a sigh of relief in the 5th minute when goalkeeper Edouard Mendy made an excellent stop to deny Fulham’s Antonee Robinson on a chance created by Havertz’s giveaway in midfield.
Just five minutes later, Chelsea’s Thiago Silva sent a ball over the top to Mason Mount and the England international slipped past the defense before passing to Havertz, who hammered it into the bottom corner for the 1-0.
Havertz looked to have added a second goal in the 17th minute, again with an assist from Mount, but it was disallowed for an offside.
Mendy shined in the 23rd minute with a save against Ademola Lookman. Fulham keeper Alphonse Areola was likewise impressive to thwart Hakim Ziyech in the 39th.
Ola Aina’s shot in first-half stoppage time took an unexpected deflection and Mendy did well to deal with it.
To be a goal behind at the break was a less-than-terrible situation for Fulham, but Havertz settled the game in the 49th minute with his second.
Yet again, the play began with a long pass, this time from Ben Chilwell to Havertz, who worked a give-and-go with Timo Werner before beating Areola to make it 2-0.
The Blues kept a clean sheet for the 11th time in 15 matches since Tuchel replaced Frank Lampard as coach. EFE