Chelsea couldn't take advantage of Tottenham Hotspur dropping points earlier in the race for fourth place, as they drew 1-1 in the local derby with Fulham, despite leading for an extended period of the game.
Chelsea started the game quite brightly, with Fernando Torres and Solomon Kalou both having strikes from distance, but following an opening 10 minute flurry faded badly throughout the first half, as Fulham took control of the game.
In the 18th minute Fulham had a very half-hearted penalty appeal turned down when Mahamadou Diarra went down, followed moments later by a wasteful finish by Damien Duff when John Arne Riise picked out the Irishman at the far edge of the penalty area.
In what was a very lively opening period, USA international Clint Dempsey wasted a glorious chance to put the home side 1-0 up in the 24th minute. Some superb work by Moussa Dembele set up the striker, however he could only fire straight at Petr Cech from all of 10-yards out.
Kerim Frei was next to test the Chelsea rearguard with a low drive from distance, but it was the incredible solo run from the Swiss youngster which had the Craven Cottage fans on their feet as he weaved and jinked his way past three Chelsea defenders before his shot was just tipped round the post by Cech.
Chelsea had their own penalty appeal turned down on 32 minutes when Ryan Bertrand's shot from just outside the area clearly struck the arm of Stephen Kelly. Despite the Irishman later receiving treatment on the arm which was struck, referee Mark Clattenburg was simply not interested.
Chelsea did manage to take the lead on the stroke of half-time when Frank Lampard converted from the spot. Solomon Kalou's mazy dribble was halted in the area when Danny Murphy foolishly dived in two-footed. Murphy didn't make contact with Kalou, but two-footed challenges are always going to be punished, and a player of his experience really ought to know better.
The second half continued with the same vigour and verve as the first, with action at both ends of the pitch, and more penalty calls.
Frank Lampard fired wide of the mark on 47 minutes, and just three minutes later had his own penalty appeal rejected. Racing to get onto a cross at the front post, Lampard appeared to be pushed in the back by Brede Hangeland, but nothing was given.
Everything decent that Fulham managed in response tended to come through the impressive Frei. On the hour, his perfectly weighted ball to Riise allowed the Norwegian to fire just inches wide with the outside of his left foot from a tight angle. So close to being a quite incredible goal for the home side.
As the game wore on, Chelsea seemed like they wanted to shut up shop and see the game out, but Fulham were not to be denied and launched wave after wave of attack. Aaron Hughes nearly made the breakthrough on 81 minutes when his bullet header was blocked on the line superbly by Cech, but from the resulting corner The Cottagers leveled.
The corner was swung in goalwards, and after eluding every marker, Clint Dempsey rose to flick the ball into the far corner of Cech's goal, via the back of Gary Cahill, setting up a frantic final ten minutes.
Substitute Orlando Sa was next to Cech with a fine header from inside the area, while Cahill did his level best at the other end to grab a winner, but none was forthcoming and a draw was just about the right result in a very entertaining game.