Mason Mount's strike was Chelsea's 800th away goal in the Premier League
Mason Mount finally broke the resistance of 10-man Fulham as Chelsea laboured their way to only a second Premier League win in seven games.
Antonee Robinson was sent off late in the first half for Fulham for a dangerous tackle on Cesar Azpilicueta.
Ten different players had shots for Chelsea, but they were wasteful in front of goal.
Their biggest chance before the goal was when Mount crashed a shot off the crossbar.
The England midfielder eventually proved the match-winner with a half-volley after Alphonse Areola flapped at Ben Chilwell's cross.
The win takes Chelsea up to seventh, while Fulham - who had drawn their previous five league games - are four points from safety.
- Follow reaction plus the rest of Saturday's Premier League action
Can result help Chelsea kick-start season?
Chelsea went top of the table on 5 December when they beat Leeds. This was only their second victory in the league since then - and they sit seven points off Manchester United, having played an extra game.
Boss Frank Lampard talked about "the experience and personality of" Olivier Giroud and Antonio Rudiger when explaining their places in starting XI - and spoke of the need to "kick-start" their season.
The result came eventually, albeit not with a stellar performance.
Giroud and Chilwell both missed the target with volleys, while Hakim Ziyech had a shot well saved before Mount hit the bar.
Rudiger had a header tipped wide, Ziyech went close with a shot from the left wing and Giroud flicked an effort wide at the near post.
It looked as if the goal was never going to come before Mount finally converted with a well-hit low finish.
Substitute Timo Werner had a glorious chance to end his Premier League goal drought - going back to 7 November - late on but slotted wide at the end of a counter-attack.
Robinson red card costs Fulham
Robinson's dismissal came during Fulham's best spell of the game - or rather at the end of it.
Three of their five first-half shots came in the five minutes before the USA wing-back's mistimed tackle on Azpilicueta. Some disputed whether the red card was merited, but in the modern era it was dangerous enough to justify a sending off.
It was a disastrous three minutes for Fulham because Ivan Cavaleiro had just missed their best chance of the game when, unmarked on the penalty spot, he fired over from Kenny Tete's pass.
They ended up defending for most of the second half - with only 23.2% of the ball - although they did have chances. Harrison Reed and Aboubakar Kamara forced saves and Cavaleiro had a shot blocked by Thiago Silva.
Just when it looked like they were going to make it six Premier League draws in a row, Areola failed to deal sufficiently with Chilwell's cross and Mount pounced.
Match stats - Chelsea are the 1-0 kings
- Chelsea's win ended a run of three straight Premier League defeats on the road. This was the Blues' fourth away clean sheet of the season, after keeping just one last term.Fulham remain winless in their last 19 Premier League London derby matches (D2 L17) since a 2-1 win over West Ham in January 2014.Chelsea have lost just one of their 29 Premier League meetings with Fulham (W18 D10), remaining unbeaten in their last 19 against the Cottagers in the competition.Chelsea have won 131 Premier League games by a 1-0 scoreline, the most common winning score for a single team in the competition's history.Chelsea had 21 shots against Fulham, only managing more against other promoted sides West Brom (22) and Leeds (23) in Premier League games this season.As well as scoring the winner, Mason Mount created seven chances in this game - the joint-most by a Chelsea player in a league game this season (Mount also seven against Leeds).Antonee Robinson's red card was Fulham's third in the Premier League this season - no side has had more so far this term.Antonee Robinson became the eighth different player from the USA to be sent off in the Premier League, with Fulham the first side to have two American players see red (also Carlos Bocanegra).
Chelsea visit Leicester City on Tuesday, while Fulham host Manchester United the next day (both games at 20:15 GMT).
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Rate players out of 10 throughout or after the game. The rater will close 30 minutes after the final whistle.
Rating range key1 = Give it up10 = Pure perfection
FulhamStarting XIAvgSquad number1Player nameAreolaAverage rating
12345678910Squad number34Player nameAinaAverage rating
12345678910Squad number5Player nameAndersenAverage rating
12345678910Squad number16Player nameAdarabioyoAverage rating
12345678910Squad number2Player nameTeteAverage rating
12345678910Squad number14Player nameDe Cordova-ReidAverage rating
12345678910Squad number21Player nameReedAverage rating
12345678910Squad number29Player nameZambo AnguissaAverage rating
12345678910Squad number33Player nameRobinsonAverage rating
12345678910Squad number17Player nameCavaleiroAverage rating
12345678910Squad number19Player nameLookmanAverage rating
12345678910SubstitutesAvgSquad number23Player nameBryanAverage rating
12345678910Squad number25Player nameOnomahAverage rating
12345678910Squad number47Player nameKamaraAverage rating
12345678910Share your Fulham player ratings withFacebookTwitterWhatsAppCopy and share linkChelseaStarting XIAvgSquad number16Player nameMendyAverage rating
12345678910Squad number28Player nameAzpilicuetaAverage rating
12345678910Squad number6Player nameThiago SilvaAverage rating
12345678910Squad number2Player nameRüdigerAverage rating
12345678910Squad number21Player nameChilwellAverage rating
12345678910Squad number17Player nameKovacicAverage rating
12345678910Squad number5Player nameJorginhoAverage rating
12345678910Squad number19Player nameMountAverage rating
12345678910Squad number22Player nameZiyechAverage rating
12345678910Squad number18Player nameGiroudAverage rating
12345678910Squad number10Player namePulisicAverage rating
12345678910SubstitutesAvgSquad number9Player nameAbrahamAverage rating
12345678910Squad number11Player nameWernerAverage rating
12345678910Squad number20Player nameHudson-OdoiAverage rating
12345678910Share your Chelsea player ratings withFacebookTwitterWhatsAppCopy and share link
- Line-upsMatch StatsLive Text
1Areola34Aina5Andersen16Adarabioyo2Tete14De Cordova-Reid21Reed29Zambo Anguissa33Robinson17Cavaleiro19Lookman
- 1Areola34AinaSubstituted forBryanat 83'minutes5Andersen16Adarabioyo2Tete14De Cordova-ReidBooked at 69minsSubstituted forKamaraat 83'minutes21Reed29Zambo Anguissa33RobinsonBooked at 44mins17CavaleiroSubstituted forOnomahat 79'minutes19LookmanBooked at 88mins
- 16Mendy28AzpilicuetaBooked at 90mins6Thiago SilvaBooked at 82mins2Rüdiger21Chilwell17Kovacic5JorginhoSubstituted forAbrahamat 65'minutes19Mount22ZiyechBooked at 72minsSubstituted forHudson-Odoiat 75'minutes18GiroudSubstituted forWernerat 75'minutes10Pulisic
Referee:Peter BankesMatch StatsHome TeamFulhamAway TeamChelseaPossessionHome30%Away70%ShotsHome10Away21Shots on TargetHome3Away6CornersHome1Away12FoulsHome11Away10Live TextPost update
Match ends, Fulham 0, Chelsea 1.
Second Half ends, Fulham 0, Chelsea 1.
Attempt missed. Timo Werner (Chelsea) right footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Christian Pulisic following a fast break.
César Azpilicueta (Chelsea) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by César Azpilicueta (Chelsea).
Ademola Lookman (Fulham) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Attempt missed. César Azpilicueta (Chelsea) right footed shot from the centre of the box is too high. Assisted by Timo Werner.
Attempt blocked. Mason Mount (Chelsea) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Corner, Chelsea. Conceded by Harrison Reed.
Callum Hudson-Odoi (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Joe Bryan (Fulham).
Ademola Lookman (Fulham) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
César Azpilicueta (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Ademola Lookman (Fulham).
Attempt saved. Aboubakar Kamara (Fulham) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom right corner.
Substitution, Fulham. Joe Bryan replaces Ola Aina.
Substitution, Fulham. Aboubakar Kamara replaces Bobby De Cordova-Reid.
Thiago Silva (Chelsea) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Thiago Silva (Chelsea).
Ademola Lookman (Fulham) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
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