Tuesday 10 December 2019

Blues hit top gear

Chelsea 3 Stoke City 0

Chelsea's Fernando Torres (top) challenges Stoke City's Wilson Palacios during their English Premier League soccer match at Stamford Bridge in London April 5, 2014. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez (BRITAIN - Tags: SPORT SOCCER TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. NO USE WITH UNAUTHORIZED AUDIO, VIDEO, DATA, FIXTURE LISTS, CLUB/LEAGUE LOGOS OR
Chelsea's Fernando Torres (top) challenges Stoke City's Wilson Palacios during their English Premier League soccer match at Stamford Bridge in London April 5, 2014. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez (BRITAIN - Tags: SPORT SOCCER TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. NO USE WITH UNAUTHORIZED AUDIO, VIDEO, DATA, FIXTURE LISTS, CLUB/LEAGUE LOGOS OR "LIVE" SERVICES. ONLINE IN-MATCH USE LIMITED TO 45 IMAGES, NO VIDEO EMULATION. NO USE IN BETTING, GAMES OR SINGLE CLUB/LEAGUE/PLAYER PUBLICATIONS
Chelsea's Willian celebrates scoring a goal against Stoke City during their English Premier League soccer match at Stamford Bridge in London April 5, 2014. REUTERS/Paul Hackett (BRITAIN - Tags: SPORT SOCCER) FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. NO USE WITH UNAUTHORIZED AUDIO, VIDEO, DATA, FIXTURE LISTS, CLUB/LEAGUE LOGOS OR "LIVE" SERVICES. ONLINE IN-MATCH USE LIMITED TO 45 IMAGES, NO VIDEO EMULATION. NO USE IN BETTING, GAMES OR SINGLE CLUB/LEAGUE/PLAYER PUBLICATIONS
Stoke City's Asmir Begovic saves a penalty from Chelsea's Frank Lampard (unseen) during their English Premier League soccer match at Stamford Bridge in London April 5, 2014. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez (BRITAIN - Tags: SPORT SOCCER) FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. NO USE WITH UNAUTHORIZED AUDIO, VIDEO, DATA, FIXTURE LISTS, CLUB/LEAGUE LOGOS OR "LIVE" SERVICES. ONLINE IN-MATCH USE LIMITED TO 45 IMAGES, NO VIDEO EMULATION. NO USE IN BETTING, GAMES OR SINGLE CLUB/LEAGUE/PLAYER PUBLICATIONS

Matt McGeehan

Chelsea recovered from their recent malaise to return to the top of the Premier League with a routine 3-0 victory over Stoke.

Jose Mourinho declared Chelsea's title challenge was over after last weekend's loss at Crystal Palace and, with the Blues' fate out of their own hands, winning the remaining six games was the target.

Liverpool, who play West Ham today, and Manchester City, 4-1 winners over Southampton earlier yesterday, have games in hand, but Chelsea are on top with five games to go after Mohamed Salah netted on his full debut.

Frank Lampard followed up to score after Asmir Begovic saved his penalty and Willian curled in a third in the Blues' 15th home win of the season.

It was the response Mourinho had demanded, although the returning Fernando Torres had few chances of note. Chelsea had lost three of their previous five games – all the defeats away – following the Selhurst Park loss with a 3-1 Champions League quarter-final first-leg loss at Paris St Germain, when Mourinho selected a striker-less XI.

It seemed like the ideal time for Stoke – winners of three straight games and with one defeat in nine – to head to Stamford Bridge, a venue where they had not won in the league in 40 years.

But Chelsea's steeliness of old returned as the Blues recorded an eighth consecutive home clean sheet, continuing a run which began with the FA Cup defeat of Stoke in January.

Mourinho has long bemoaned Chelsea's lack of firepower, but their challenge has been built on a five-man defensive unit – Petr Cech, Branislav Ivanovic, Cesar Azpilicueta, Gary Cahill and John Terry – who started as a combination for a 10th successive game.

Chelsea now look ahead to Tuesday's night return at home to PSG.

Who is your sportstar of the year?

Vote in the Irish Independent Sport Star Awards and you could win the ultimate sports prize.

Prizes include, tickets to Ireland's against Scotland in the Six Nations, All Ireland football and hurling final tickets and much more.

Simply click here to register your vote

Sunday Indo Sport

The Left Wing: The problem with the Champions Cup, the Stephen Larkham effect and trouble in Welsh rugby

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport