Premier League
StokeStoke City0ChelseaChelsea2
By Jamie StricklandBBC Sport
John Terry
John Terry has now scored in 15 successive Premier League seasons

Chelsea ensured they will be top of the Premier League on Christmas Day after a hard-fought victory over Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium.

John Terry's header inside two minutes kick-started a spiky contest that threatened to spill over at times.

Chelsea boss Mourinho 'goes home happy'

Yet for all Stoke's desire, Chelsea always looked in control and deservedly doubled their lead through Cesc Fabregas's scuffed finish.

Steven Nzonzi had Stoke's best chance but his deflected shot was well saved.

Victory took Chelsea three points clear of second-placed Manchester City.

The only blight on Chelsea's night came with a late injury to Eden Hazard, who limped off after appearing to injure an ankle in a tangle with Jonathan Walters.

Ahead of the kick-off, much talk centred on the hackneyed issue of whether Chelsea's stars could perform on a cold December night in Stoke.

Those inside the Britannia Stadium did not have to wait long for an answer, with barely 90 seconds on the clock when the visitors went in front.

After Branislav Ivanovic's shot from Chelsea's first attack was charged down, Terry's unchallenged header from Fabregas' resulting corner powered past the exposed Asmir Begovic.

Glad tidings for Mourinho's men
Seven of the last 10 teams to be top at Christmas have gone on to win the Premier League title. On the previous three occasions Chelsea have led the way on 25 December, the title followed in May.

Tempers nearly boiled over when Phil Bardsley went in hard on Hazard as the Belgian advanced down the left.

The tackle enraged Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho but referee Neil Swarbrick showed only a yellow card.

Stoke perked up and almost levelled when Nzonzi's low strike deflected off Terry and forced a wonderful save down low from Thibaut Courtois, recalled in place of Petr Cech after a muscular injury.

Diego Costa should have doubled Chelsea's lead after half-an-hour when he raced clear on to Fabregas' through ball but dragged his low drive just wide.

Early Chelsea goal frustrates Hughes

Stoke's only win in 12 previous Premier League meetings with Chelsea came in this fixture last season, when they won 3-2 thanks to a last-minute winner from Oussama Assaidi, but a lack of midfield quality dimmed hopes of a repeat.

Instead, Stoke allowed themselves to be riled by the prickly Costa, who clashed repeatedly with Ryan Shawcross in the opening half and early in the second with Erik Pieters, earning the Stoke man a yellow card.

Stoke introduced Charlie Adam as a substitute in an attempt to add some composure in midfield and he nearly equalised when his sliced 20-yard drive spun just wide of the left-hand post.

With 12 minutes left, Hazard found Fabregas, whose untidy finish bobbled beyond the wrong-footed Begovic.

Stoke manager Mark Hughes: "I think we were frustrated to concede early on. It affected our game plan. When we gained momentum they were able to take the sting out of the game and slow things down.

"I've seen them play better. They were helped by the opening goal because they could then sit deep and the onus was on us. With the quality they have they didn't create that many clear-cut chances."

Phil Bardsley and Eden Hazard
Phil Bardsley escaped with a yellow card for this heavy challenge on Eden Hazard
Cesc Fabregas
Cesc Fabregas' goal was his second in the league this season
Diego Costa
Diego Costa was a constant thorn in the side of the Stoke defence
Mark Hughes and Jose Mourinho
Opposing managers Mark Hughes and Jose Mourinho clashed during a heated first period

Line-ups

Stoke

  • 1Begovic
  • 2BardsleyBooked at 20mins
  • 17Shawcross
  • 5Muniesa
  • 3PietersBooked at 53mins
  • 15N'Zonzi
  • 20CameronSubstituted forAdamat 68'minutes
  • 19WaltersBooked at 90mins
  • 27Bojan
  • 10ArnautovicSubstituted forAssaidiat 82'minutes
  • 25CrouchSubstituted forDioufat 63'minutes

Substitutes

  • 4Huth
  • 6Whelan
  • 12Wilson
  • 16Adam
  • 18Diouf
  • 22Butland
  • 24Assaidi

Chelsea

  • 13Courtois
  • 2Ivanovic
  • 24Cahill
  • 26Terry
  • 28Azpilicueta
  • 12Mikel
  • 21Matic
  • 22WillianSubstituted forSchürrleat 80'minutes
  • 4Fàbregas
  • 10E HazardSubstituted forZoumaat 90+3'minutes
  • 19Diego CostaSubstituted forDrogbaat 85'minutes

Substitutes

  • 1Cech
  • 3Filipe Luís
  • 5Zouma
  • 6Aké
  • 8Oscar
  • 11Drogba
  • 14Schürrle
Referee:
Neil Swarbrick
Attendance:
27,550

Match Stats

Home TeamStokeAway TeamChelsea
Possession
Home51%
Away49%
Shots
Home13
Away15
Shots on Target
Home2
Away6
Corners
Home6
Away5
Fouls
Home11
Away4

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Stoke City 0, Chelsea 2.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Stoke City 0, Chelsea 2.

  3. Post update

    Attempt missed. Bojan (Stoke City) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Charlie Adam.

  4. Post update

    Attempt saved. André Schürrle (Chelsea) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by John Terry.

  5. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Bojan (Stoke City) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Charlie Adam.

  6. Post update

    Corner, Stoke City. Conceded by Gary Cahill.

  7. Substitution

    Substitution, Chelsea. Kurt Zouma replaces Eden Hazard because of an injury.

  8. Post update

    Attempt missed. Charlie Adam (Stoke City) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Bojan.

  9. Post update

    Delay over. They are ready to continue.

  10. Post update

    Delay in match Eden Hazard (Chelsea) because of an injury.

  11. Booking

    Jonathan Walters (Stoke City) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

  12. Post update

    Eden Hazard (Chelsea) wins a free kick on the left wing.

  13. Post update

    Foul by Jonathan Walters (Stoke City).

  14. Post update

    Didier Drogba (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  15. Post update

    Foul by Jonathan Walters (Stoke City).

  16. Post update

    Attempt missed. Didier Drogba (Chelsea) right footed shot from outside the box is too high. Assisted by César Azpilicueta.

  17. Post update

    Cesc Fàbregas (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  18. Post update

    Foul by Erik Pieters (Stoke City).

  19. Post update

    Branislav Ivanovic (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  20. Post update

    Foul by Oussama Assaidi (Stoke City).