Chelsea vs. Stoke City  1 - 0


Premier League: Chelsea 1 Stoke 0

10 March 2012 18:11

Didier Drogba's second-half goal helped Roberto Di Matteo to his second win as Chelsea boss as they defeated 10-man Stoke 1-0 on Saturday.

Stoke came into the match at Stamford Bridge having failed to win a league game against Chelsea home or away since 1975 and matters were not helped by Ricardo Fuller's sending off for a blatant stamp on Branislav Ivanovic in the first half.

Chances were hard to come by but Chelsea's patience was rewarded in the second half as Drogba latched onto Juan Mata's through ball to net his 100th Chelsea goal.

The hosts began encouragingly, pressing Stoke deep and forcing an early mix-up between Ryan Shawcross and goalkeeper Asmir Begovic that saw the centre-back's header land on the roof of his own net.

Chelsea forged another chance through Ivanovic, before Gary Cahill tested Begovic from distance only for the Bosnian to palm his stinging drive away.

But as the hosts looked likely to open the scoring John Walters carved a chance of his own, initially seeing his shot blocked by Cahill before sending the rebound wide.

Walters' strike partner Fuller, starting his first Premier League game in over a year, fared even worse as he received his marching orders after just 25 minutes.

Fuller chased a long pass and as Ivanovic slid to hook the ball to safety, the Jamaican reacted impetuously by deliberately stamping down on the Chelsea defender.

Chelsea continued to search for the opener and Ivanovic played a one-two with Frank Lampard on the edge of the box leading to a looped header that was claimed by Begovic on his goal-line.

As half-time approached, Di Matteo made his first substitution, introducing the mercurial Mata for Raul Meireles.

But it was Ivanovic, the main protagonist of the first period, who pounced on a loose clearance in the visitors' box and smashed a half-volley against the crossbar as Di Matteo's team closed the half on a high.

The hosts looked to be lacking creativity in the final third and the only chances of the first 15 minutes of the second half came from long-range efforts from Lampard, substitute David Luiz and John Terry.

Mata left his mark on the game when he set up Drogba for the decisive goal, threading a pass into the path of the Ivorian, who rounded Begovic and slotted home.

Lampard came close to doubling the lead minutes later but his fierce shot from 25 yards was smuggled away by the busy Begovic.

Stoke came closest to equalising with 15 minutes to play when midfielder Andy Wilkinson attempted a 40-yard lob over Petr Cech, but the impressive attempt drifted marginally wide.


Premier League preview: Chelsea v Stoke

10 March 2012 01:52

Chelsea caretaker manager Roberto Di Matteo knows victory against Stoke City on Saturday is crucial to achieving the club's aim.

The Stamford Bridge outfit are hell-bent on finishing in the top four to make next season's UEFA Champions League.

They currently sit fifth on the table and have to travel to table-toppers Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool before the end of a tumultuous season.

That means three points are a must when ninth-placed Stoke visit west London in the English Premier League meeting on Saturday.

"For us, it's vital to finish fourth in the table," Di Matteo said after the club's 2-0 win at Birmingham City in an FA Cup fifth-round replay on Tuesday.

"We don't like where we are in the table and it's going to be tough to achieve what we are trying to achieve."

"That (fourth) is the target. If we can win a cup or two on the way, then that's a benefit.''

Di Matteo dedicated Tuesday's win at St Andrew's - which came thanks to second-half goals from Juan Mata and Raul Meireles - to the club's former manager Andre Villas-Boas.

And he denied suggestions of unrest among the Chelsea camp, adding: "We are a happy family. Tonight everybody is happy."

Chelsea captain John Terry returned to his side's squad on Tuesday but sat on the bench for the entire match as he recovers from a knee injury, while Ashley Cole (ankle) could make a return for the visit of Stoke.

The last two matches between the sides have ended in draws, but Chelsea have won all three Premier League meetings at Stamford Bridge, with a 7-0 win in April 2010 the highlight.

Stoke have not won at Chelsea since April 1974 and will feel quietly confident after successive home wins against Norwich City and Swansea City.

They have no major injury worries and will face a Chelsea side low on confidence.

And that means they could spring a surprise when the two sides meet on Saturday.

Premier League table

# Team MP D P
1 38 +64 89
2 38 +56 89
3 38 +25 70
4 38 +25 69
5 38 +5 65
6 38 +19 64
7 38 +10 56
8 38 +7 52
9 38 -3 52
10 38 -7 47
11 38 -7 47
12 38 -14 47
13 38 -1 45
14 38 -17 45
15 38 -20 43
16 38 -16 38
17 38 -23 37
18 38 -31 36
19 38 -30 31
20 38 -42 25