Premier League: Cole powers Chelsea over Stoke
London, England, United Kingdom (4E Sports) – Defender Ashley Cole scored his first Premier League goal in two years in the 85th minute to lift the Blues to a 1-0 victory over Stoke City Saturday at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich was on hand to watch his attacking midfielders — Eden Hazard, Oscar, Juan Mata and Fernando Torres — together on the field for the first time but he almost went home disappointed as the trio failed to provide the offensive punch.
Luckily for Abramovich, Cole was at the right place at the right time to fire a close-range score for his first goal since 2010 that gave Chelsea a crucial win and a three-point lead over Everton and West Bromwich in the standings.
Stoke, for its part, suffered its first defeat after four consecutive draws.
“It was fully deserved,” Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo said of the win. “It was one-way traffic today. They had probably a few chances, from a free-kick, a corner and a break, but it was one-way traffic really for the whole game.”
Di Matteo also explained his decision to rest veterans John Terry and Frank Lampard, saying he just gave them a chance to recover from a busy recent schedule.
“It’s just a question of using the squad,” he said. “We’ve got so many games and trying to utilize fresh players and our two boys have played so many games for us and will play many, many more. They are fantastic, those two; they lead by example and we are a group and that is what is most important.”
Earlier, Stoke had a chance to break the ice in the 20th minute but Jonathan Walters’ header hit the crossbar.
“I think we played really well,” Stoke manager Tony Pulis said. “I think it was most probably the best we’ve played at Chelsea in the five years we’ve been in the Barclays Premier League. We created some really good opportunities and missed some chances.”
In other games, Everton beat Swansea City, 3-0; Southampton beat Aston Villa, 4-1; West Bromwich Albion defeated Reading, 1-0; Fulham prevailed over Wigan Athletic, 2-1; and
West Ham United and Sunderland battled to a 1-1 draw.