LONDON, England, April 18 – Chelsea moved third in the Premier League as John Terry scored twice following a David Luiz thunderbolt in their 3-0 win against west London rivals Fulham at Craven Cottage on Wednesday.
Brazil star Luiz lashed home from 35 yards in the 30th minute before Terry netted with a brace of close-range headers in the 42nd and 71st minutes.
Rafael Benitez’s side are one point ahead of fourth placed Arsenal and three in front of fifth placed Tottenham in the race to qualify for the Champions League.
Benitez made four changes to the starting line-up that lost 2-1 in the FA Cup semi-final to Manchester City on Sunday.
In came Frank Lampard for his 600th appearance for the club as well as Terry, winger Victor Moses and striker Fernando Torres.
Cottagers boss Martin Jol also tinkered with his team and brought in Mladen Petric and John Arne Riise for the injured Damien Duff and Kieran Richardson.
The hosts started on the front foot and had a chance to take the lead within three minutes.
Sascha Riether crossed for Bryan Ruiz, but he couldn’t keep his cushioned volley down from close-range.
Fulham took time to settle at the back. Brede Hangeland looked nervy when he skewed a clearance into the air and Torres set the ball up for Lampard to strike straight at goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer in the 10th minute.
Dimitar Berbatov’s volley on the edge of the box was deflected off Terry and deflected for a corner.
Then the Bulgarian striker played in Giorgos Karagounis, who failed to hit the target with his shot from 20 yards drifting wide of Petr Cech’s far post.
Riise began to bomb forward as he looked to get involved in attack and put added pressure on Cech.
But it was almost straight after the former Liverpool defender saw an effort saved by the Blues keeper that Chelsea opened the scoring.
With Luiz in acres of space the centre-back shot and Schwarzer had no chance of keeping his goal-of-the-season contender out of the net.
Having played the more fluid and attractive football, Fulham knew they had a chance to get back into the game.
Urby Emanuelson forced a full-stretch Cech to tip an effort around a post as half-time approached, while Berbatov always looked a threat.
His chance from the edge of the box, hit with the outside of his boot, went agonisingly wide of the target as Fulham’s lack of cutting edge cost them.
Following another spell of pressure from the Cottagers, Chelsea struck again.
Juan Mata’s deep cross-field ball towards the far post was met by Terry, who headed down into the ground and past Schwarzer from just six yards.
It then took Chelsea 13 minutes to put together their first telling attack of the second-half.
The lively Torres crossed into the six-yard box and Mata threw his legs at the ball, but couldn’t connect.
Despite having to be disciplined at times as Fulham looked for a way back, the Blues never looked like losing their grip on the game.
In fact the last time they lost a top-flight contest when leading by two or more goals was a 3-2 defeat to Arsenal in 1999.
Petric, standing right on the goal line, somehow hooked over following Philippe Senderos’ header as Fulham continued to miss chances.
Terry then popped up with his second and Chelsea’s third when he headed in from Torres’ flick from right on the line with 18 minutes to go as Fulham were beaten for the second time in three games.