CHELSEA will struggle to crack a chocolate Easter egg let alone the top four. Dreadful defending and a late Clint Dempsey equaliser saw them blow a big chance to go level with Tottenham.
Instead, caretaker boss Roberto Di Matteo�s luck ran out and his team is now stuck in sixth place with five games to go.
They have only themselves to blame.
Blues were eight minutes from a hard-earned win which bore all the hallmarks of the old Chelsea.
But that team would never have surrendered like this.
Frank Lampard hit a controversial first-half penalty that looked like being decisive.
But what they failed to do was make the most of it having been armed with the knowledge of Spurs� earlier defeat. Three points and a 1-0 win would have put a revived Chelsea into fifth place, behind Sunday�s FA Cup semi-final opponents by just one goal. Now they must rely on Tottenham slipping up again with so few games left � and Chelsea have the much harder run-in.
A costly lapse in concentration at the back only puts more pressure on, with so many other key games looming.
Just three days after Sunday�s Wembley showdown with Spurs, comes Barcelona in the Champions League semi-final.
After this draw, winning the big one looks like being the only way they will be back in Europe again next season.
Chelsea were eventually lucky to get out of their neighbours� house with a point, such was the pummelling they took in the final stages of a match which slowly got into gear after Lampard tucked away his spot-kick.
It had been all Fulham until then too, as Martin Jol�s eye-catching side tested Petr Cech. An interchange between Moussa Dembele and Dempsey in the 26th minute eventually led to a shot from the in-form American.
But it was too slow and Chelsea�s keeper covered the danger comfortably.
Just 60 seconds later, Kerim Frei exploded into the area.
The young midfielder wriggled past John Terry, Branislav Ivanovic and Gary Cahill with a neat twist then let rip with a low shot, heading goalwards until Cech launched himself onto the deck and tipped the ball round his near post.
With bodies firmly behind the ball and Fulham�s full-backs throwing themselves in the path of everything, Chelsea were reduced to a couple of lame, long-range efforts.
Fernando Torres had an effort deflected over the bar, Salomon Kalou shot straight at Mark Schwarzer from 25 yards and Lampard fired off a wayward shot on 31 minutes.
That almost cleared the Hammersmith End of the Cottage.
Then fate, or the referee stepped in, just as the officials played a big part in Saturday�s hugely fortunate 2-1 win over Wigan which kept the Di Matteo bandwagon rolling along.
On 45 minutes, ref Mark Clattenburg gave a penalty to Chelsea which left Fulham raging even as everyone trooped off to dry off at half-time.
Kalou darted into the box only to be met by Danny Murphy. The Fulham skipper got the ball but also showed studs to the Chelsea forward who tumbled over.
Lampard was more precise this time with his finishing, neatly placing a a shot low and to the right of Schwarzer to claim his 150th Prem goal.
Murphy hounded Clattenburg at half-time � arguing the case that if he had showed studs, why had he not been booked. It was a justifiable argument and later it was suggested the spot kick was given for right-back Stephen Kelly�s foul on Kalou a split second earlier.
Whatever it was for, it was hard cheese on Fulham who had led the way in open play.
Chelsea appeared to have their minds on their forthcoming semi-finals � when the chase for fourth place should also be a priority.
They emerged far more energetic in the second half. Lampard went close with a left-footer and had a shout for a second penalty when shoved by Hangeland.
Fulham rose to the increased tempo, too. In particular, teenager Frei teased Chelsea, drawing a series of fouls.
The pressure mounted and, eventually, Fulham got their reward. Cech made a stunning save at a corner from Aaron Hughes� header.
But 30 seconds later a second one came in as Dempsey rose unchallenged to flick home his third goal in two games to knock the stuffing out of Chelsea.
STAR MAN - KERIM FREI (Fulham)
FULHAM: Schwarzer 6, Kelly 6, Hangeland 7, Hughes 7, JA Riise 7, Duff 6, Murphy 6 (Etuhu 5), Diarra 7 (Orlando Sa 6), Frei 8 (Kacaniklic 5), Dembele 6, Dempsey 7. Subs not used: Stockdale, Kasami, Senderos, Briggs. Booked: Murphy.
CHELSEA: Cech 7, Ivanovic 5, Cahill 6, Terry 6, Bertrand 5, Mikel 5, Meireles 5 (Mata 5), Kalou 6, Lampard 6, Ramires 5 (Drogba 5), Torres 5. Subs not used: Turnbull, Romeu, Malouda, Bosingwa, Sturridge. Booked: Meireles, Cahill, Mikel.
REF: M Clattenburg 5
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