Chelsea needed a last-ditch winner from Ashley Cole to secure victory against Stoke to secure all three points in an encounter that saw very few clear-cut chances created. Chelsea dominated possession for long spells of the game but didn’t quite manage to break down Stoke till very late in the game.
Chelsea XI: Cech (c); Ivanovic, Luiz, Cahill, Cole; Ramires, Mikel; Hazard, Oscar, Mata; Torres.
Chelsea started the game well, winning a corner within the first minute itself. The first chance of the match came in the 6th minute when Torres met the ball with his head but headed over the bar. The game was all Chelsea then and Stoke sat deep allowing Chelsea more room to play their passing game. Luiz came close when he almost met a corner from Hazard, but he didn’t connect with the ball. However, Stoke weren’t going to simply hand the victory to Chelsea, and they came close to scoring a goal when a free-kick was met by Walters. Thankfully he headed against the bar. At the other end, Mata managed to play Torres through with a beautiful chipped ball which Torres brought down well but missed the shot thereafter. It was the best chance of the game by far. Stoke managed to come close again, this time Kightly with a header that Cech couldn’t quite hold on to, but the ball was cleared by Cahill. That was pretty much the last chance of the first half. Chelsea did create some pressure at the other end, but the half ended goalless.
Soon after the restart, Oscar was booked for what appeared to be a dive inside the penalty area. Replays showed that there was contact (hence the booking was unjustified), but it wasn’t sufficient for a penalty. Chelsea were passing well inside the area but failing to create many chances. The few chances that were being created were being wasted. Mata tried to curl one into the top corner but the ball reached the stands instead. Victor Moses was brought on in place of Hazard to try & liven up the game a bit. However, Oscar looked Chelsea’s best hope for a goal and managed to test Begovic but the young Brazilian never really looked in control. In the 76th minute, Mikel nearly scored. However, he was replaced by Lampard in the 80th minute as Chelsea searched for a goal. The goal came in the 84th minute, when a back-heel pass from Mata was met by Ashley Cole, who tapped in to score his first goal in 2 seasons, giving Chelsea the lead. Stoke tried desperately to rescue a point, but the one goal was enough in the end.