Premier League
Stoke1Chelsea2

Stoke City 1-2 Chelsea

Gary Cahill
Gary Cahill has scored four Premier League goals this season - two against Stoke

Gary Cahill made up for conceding a penalty by scoring a late winner as Chelsea moved a step closer to the Premier League title with victory at Stoke.

The England defender settled a heated encounter three minutes from time by sweeping home after Stoke failed to clear a Cesc Fabregas corner.

It sent Chelsea 13 points clear at the top with 10 games to play.

Chelsea striker Diego Costa was involved in a running battle with Stoke's defenders - being booked himself and involved in incidents that saw Bruno Martins Indi and Phil Bardsley cautioned.

And the home side were reduced to 10 men in added time when Bardsley was sent off for a second bookable offence.

Willian had given Chelsea a first-half lead with an inswinging free-kick from the left that caught out keeper Lee Grant at his near post.

Martins Indi had a goal ruled out for a push by Saido Berahino on Cesar Azpilicueta, but the hosts drew level when Cahill was ruled to have pushed Jon Walters, who blasted in the penalty.

The visitors had nearly all the chances, with Marcos Alonso firing a free-kick against the bar and Pedro denied by a fine Grant save.

No Hazard - no problem

Antonio Conte
Antonio Conte's Chelsea side have been top of the Premier League since 5 November

Even the absence of Eden Hazard with a muscle problem did not ultimately thwart Chelsea, whose relentless consistency has been extraordinary.

Hazard's absence, only confirmed an hour before kick-off, was the major surprise as Antonio Conte's side sought a fifth successive win.

Pedro proved a willing deputy, but it was two players who scored against Stoke in the reverse fixture at Stamford Bridge who provided the goals.

Willian, who struck twice in a 4-2 win over Hughes' side on New Year's Eve, caught out Grant with a marvellous piece of quick thinking to whip his first-half free-kick inside the near post.

Cahill's winner actually came after a decent five-minute spell of Stoke pressure as the game opened up in the closing stages.

The decisive goal was a tribute to the work ethic Conte has instilled in his players - coming from a corner won after substitute Ruben Loftus-Cheek harassed Erik Pieters into over-hitting a back pass.

Chelsea have now won 20 of their past 23 matches in all competitions, and look unstoppable.

Costa causes chaos

Diego Costa
Chelsea striker Diego Costa was involved in a series of flashpoints

Stoke boss Mark Hughes has spoken in the past of his admiration for Costa - a striker of undoubted talent who plays on the edge.

Hughes, a fearsome centre-forward in his playing days, has suggested he sees a bit of his own playing style in Costa's game.

The Spain international certainly did his best to rough up Stoke's defenders, and seemed in danger of getting sent off after he was booked with barely a quarter-of-an-hour gone.

His tussles with Martins Indi were a feature of the game from the off, and referee Anthony Taylor had to speak to both players following an early off-the-ball tangle.

Costa, though, drew the Stoke defenders into the battle - and then concentrated more on his football after half-time to keep himself out of trouble.

He made sure not to retaliate when Bardsley clattered him shortly before the break, then forced Martins Indi into a challenge for which he was booked.

There was to be no goal for Costa - chasing his 50th in the Premier League - but he still came out smiling as Stoke lost their discipline.

Stoke fall short against big boys

Phil Bardsley
Phil Bardsley's late red card was Stoke's second of the season

Hughes has managed a consistency of his own since arriving at Stoke in 2013 - three successive ninth-place finishes, and a fourth more than likely.

His players showed they were more than ready to match Chelsea physically, as Martins Indi and Ryan Shawcross relished their battle with Costa, but the home side were second best here.

Walters' penalty was their only shot on target, and although they did well to stay in the game for so long, there was no question the visitors deserved their win.

Stoke, nonetheless, showed the grit that earned them a draw at Manchester City in their last match, and Geoff Cameron did a fine job in helping out his defenders when Chelsea's sharp passing threatened to overwhelm them.

In the end, it was not enough - and Stoke remain without a win this season against any side currently in the top half of the table.

Man of the match - Willian (Chelsea)

Willian
A clever free-kick was the highlight of the afternoon for a player who was at the centre of many of Chelsea's best creative moments

Chelsea's free-kick wonder

  • Eight of Willian's past 19 goals for Chelsea have been from direct free-kicks.
  • The Brazilian's goal was his sixth in the Premier League this season - his best tally in a single campaign in the competition.
  • Stoke have won only one of their 13 Premier League games against teams placed top of the table on the day of the game (W1 D2 L10).
  • Cahill is the first Chelsea player to score a goal and concede a penalty in the same Premier League game since Salomon Kalou did so against West Ham in April 2009.
  • Walters has been directly involved in 60 Premier League goals for Stoke (42 goals, 18 assists); more than any other Potters player.
  • Azpilicueta made his 150th Premier League appearance for Chelsea, becoming the first Spaniard to reach the milestone for the Blues.
  • Stoke have won only two of their 18 Premier League meetings with Chelsea (D3 L13).

What's next?

The Premier League takes a break for the next round of World Cup qualifiers, after which Chelsea host Crystal Palace on 1 April, the same day Stoke visit Leicester.

Line-ups

Stoke

  • 33Grant
  • 2BardsleyBooked at 90mins
  • 17Shawcross
  • 15Martins IndiBooked at 65mins
  • 3PietersBooked at 65mins
  • 10Arnautovic
  • 20CameronBooked at 90mins
  • 4AllenBooked at 15mins
  • 32SobhiSubstituted forCrouchat 90+2'minutes
  • 19Walters
  • 9BerahinoSubstituted forDioufat 61'minutes

Substitutes

  • 5Muniesa
  • 6Whelan
  • 14Afellay
  • 16Adam
  • 18Diouf
  • 24Given
  • 25Crouch

Chelsea

  • 13Courtois
  • 28Azpilicueta
  • 30David Luiz
  • 24Cahill
  • 15MosesSubstituted forFàbregasat 70'minutesBooked at 90mins
  • 7Kanté
  • 21MaticSubstituted forLoftus-Cheekat 82'minutes
  • 3Alonso
  • 22WillianSubstituted forZoumaat 88'minutes
  • 19Diego CostaBooked at 17mins
  • 11Pedro

Substitutes

  • 1Begovic
  • 4Fàbregas
  • 5Zouma
  • 6Aké
  • 14Loftus-Cheek
  • 23Batshuayi
  • 29Chalobah
Referee:
Anthony Taylor
Attendance:
27,724

Match Stats

Home TeamStokeAway TeamChelsea
Possession
Home36%
Away64%
Shots
Home5
Away20
Shots on Target
Home1
Away7
Corners
Home5
Away11
Fouls
Home16
Away11

Live Text

Match ends, Stoke City 1, Chelsea 2.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Stoke City 1, Chelsea 2.

Dismissal

Second yellow card to Phil Bardsley (Stoke City) for a bad foul.

Cesc Fàbregas (Chelsea) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by Phil Bardsley (Stoke City).

Booking

Cesc Fàbregas (Chelsea) is shown the yellow card.

Corner, Chelsea. Conceded by Ryan Shawcross.

Attempt blocked. Diego Costa (Chelsea) left footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Cesc Fàbregas.

Corner, Chelsea. Conceded by Lee Grant.

Attempt saved. Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Pedro.

Diego Costa (Chelsea) hits the right post with a right footed shot from the right side of the box. Assisted by Pedro.

Substitution

Substitution, Stoke City. Peter Crouch replaces Ramadan Sobhi.

Booking

Geoff Cameron (Stoke City) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Diego Costa (Chelsea) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by Geoff Cameron (Stoke City).

Attempt missed. Pedro (Chelsea) left footed shot from the right side of the box is too high. Assisted by Cesc Fàbregas following a corner.

Corner, Chelsea. Conceded by Joe Allen.

Foul by Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea).

Erik Pieters (Stoke City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Substitution

Substitution, Chelsea. Kurt Zouma replaces Willian.

Goal!

Goal! Stoke City 1, Chelsea 2. Gary Cahill (Chelsea) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the top left corner following a corner.

Attempt blocked. David Luiz (Chelsea) header from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Cesc Fàbregas with a cross.

Corner, Chelsea. Conceded by Erik Pieters.

Diego Costa (Chelsea) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by Geoff Cameron (Stoke City).

Attempt missed. Ramadan Sobhi (Stoke City) right footed shot from the left side of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Jonathan Walters.

Offside, Stoke City. Ryan Shawcross tries a through ball, but Jonathan Walters is caught offside.

Attempt missed. Ryan Shawcross (Stoke City) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Marko Arnautovic with a cross following a corner.

Corner, Stoke City. Conceded by David Luiz.

Substitution

Substitution, Chelsea. Ruben Loftus-Cheek replaces Nemanja Matic.

Corner, Stoke City. Conceded by Marcos Alonso.

Attempt blocked. Marko Arnautovic (Stoke City) right footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Mame Biram Diouf.

Attempt blocked. Joe Allen (Stoke City) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

Corner, Stoke City. Conceded by Marcos Alonso.

N'Golo Kanté (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Mame Biram Diouf (Stoke City).

Attempt missed. Diego Costa (Chelsea) header from the centre of the box is too high. Assisted by César Azpilicueta following a set piece situation.

Diego Costa (Chelsea) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by Phil Bardsley (Stoke City).

Attempt blocked. Pedro (Chelsea) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Willian.

goal

As It Stood

TeamPWDLGDPts
1Chelsea2822333869
2Tottenham2716833356
3Man City2717552456
4Liverpool2816752555
5Arsenal2715572250
6Everton2914872150
7Man Utd26131031749
8West Brom2912710143
9Stoke299911-936
10Southampton269611-233
11Bournemouth299614-1233
12West Ham299614-1233
13Burnley299515-1132
14Watford288713-1531
15Leicester288614-1430
16Crystal Palace288416-1028
17Swansea298318-2727
18Hull296617-3224
19Middlesbrough2741013-1122
20Sunderland285518-2620
View full Premier League table

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