Joao Felix sent off on Chelsea debut in 2-1 loss to Fulham

LONDON (AP) — João Félix was sent off on his Chelsea debut for a studs-first lunge as his new team lost 2-1 at Fulham in the Premier League to fall deeper into crisis on Thursday.

The Portugal forward looked disconsolate after being shown a straight red card in the 58th minute for his dangerous challenge on Kenny Tete that caught the Fulham right back just below his right knee.

Félix, who joined on loan from Atletico Madrid for the rest of the season on Wednesday, was having an impressive game until his sending-off, making surging runs, delivering incisive passes and showing some neat tricks and flicks.

He won’t be able to showcase them again until Feb. 11 as he will now miss league games against Crystal Palace, Liverpool and Fulham. With Félix having joined on a deal costing Chelsea a reported $790,000 a week taking in wages and the loan fee, it is a costly error for both the club and for under-pressure manager Graham Potter.

Chelsea slipped to a seventh loss in its last 10 matches in all competitions thanks to a 73rd-minute winner from Carlos Vinicius, who met a cross from Andreas Pereira with an unchallenged header at the far post. The Brazilian striker was only playing because first-choice center forward Aleksandar Mitrović was suspended.

Fulham went ahead in the 25th minute through a deflected shot from former Chelsea winger Willian, only to concede an equalizer in the 47th when Mason Mount’s free kick came back off the post and Kalidou Koulibaly forced home the rebound from close range.

While Fulham climbed above Liverpool into sixth place to continue a brilliant first season back in the top flight, Chelsea stayed in 10th place and 19 points off leader Arsenal having played one game more.

A top-four finish to qualify for the Champions League is looking more and more unlikely for Chelsea, whose extensive injury list now includes Denis Zakaria after the midfielder came off with a problem midway through the second half.


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The Associated Press