London: A superb second-half display from Chelsea saw the Blues run out 4-0 winners against Stoke and inflict a first home Premier League defeat of the season on the Potters.
The first half lacked quality but a Jonathan Walters own goal right before the break gave the visitors the lead, and in the second half the Blues ran riot. The unlucky Walters added a second own goal before a Frank Lampard penalty and a Eden Hazard rocket sealed the points.
Stoke made one change to the side that started their last Premier League game against Manchester City as Matthew Etherington started on the left in place of Cameron Jerome. The visitors made four changes to the side that were beaten by Swansea in the Capital One Cup semi-final with Demba Ba, Petr Cech, Frank Lampard and Ryan Bertrand starting in place of Fernando Torres, Ross Turnbull, Gary Cahill and Oscar.
The opening half was short on skill and entertainment with both sides limited to half chances until right before the break.
Stoke had the game’s first chance as Kenwyne Jones found himself with room inside the Chelsea penalty area but he dragged his shot wide of Cech’s goal. And the visitors responded 10 minutes later with a nice passing move that led to Ba finding Lampard inside the penalty area but Begovic saved well with his feet from the midfielder`s low shot.
With the half seemingly drifting to an end without a goal Chelsea opened the scoring with what was the final attack, Hazard released Cesar Azpilicueta on the right-hand side, the Spaniard delivered a dangerous cross to the back post where Walters headed past his own goalkeeper in his attempt to clear the cross before Juan Mata could pounce.
Stoke began the second half full of life and after a Steven N’Zonzi shot tested Cech they thought they had a penalty just before the hour. Azpilicueta appeared to bring down Etherington inside the penalty area, Andre Marriner awarded the penalty only for assistant referee Sian Massey to overrule the decision as the winger had drifted into an offside position.
Four minutes later the Stoke players were cursing that decision as Walters again headed past his own goalkeeper. Lampard challenged the winger from a right-wing corner and the ball hit the Stoke man before dropping into the back of the net.
Stoke’s misery was added to just two minutes later as Robert Huth was adjudged to have brought down Mata inside the penalty area. The decision looked harsh but that made no difference to Lampard who smashed the ball past Begovic from 12 yards to become Chelsea’s second highest goal scorer with 194 goals.
Chelsea hammered the final nail in the Stoke coffin in the 73rd minute as Hazard fired an unstoppable shot into the top corner. The Belgian received the ball inside the Stoke half from Mata, drifted away from Glenn Whelan and lashed an absolute rocket past Begovic.
Stoke were awarded a penalty in the closing seconds as substitute John Terry brought Walters down in the penalty area, but the forward lashed his spot kick against the crossbar to complete a dreadful day for the Potters.
First Published: Sunday, January 13, 2013, 08:12