Writer: Charlie Bennett
Date:Saturday September 12 2009
Florent Malouda`s injury time winner gave Chelsea and Carlo Ancelotti a huge victory away at Stoke. The Frenchman popped up in the 93rd minute to smash the ball past a helpless Steve Simonsen to keep the Blues 100% start to the season in tact. This is the second time in a row that Chelsea have scored an injury time winner against the Potters after coming from behind.
Earlier in the first half Abdoulaye Faye had given Stoke the lead after poor Goalkeeping from Petr Cech. Didier Drogba`s superb equaliser sent the teams in at half time level.
Stoke boss Tony Pulis went into the game with a defensive mindset by naming 5 recognised defenders. Ricardo Fuller, Danny Higginbotham, Liam Lawrence and Matthew Etherington all dropped to the bench as they were replaced by James Beattie, Dean Whitehead and making their full debuts Robert Huth and Danny Collins.
In Chelsea`s side were the usual world class players you would expect such as Frank Lampard, John Terry and Didier Drogba. Surprisingly though Nicolas Anelka and Michael Essien remained on the bench.
Chelsea had the best of the opening stages as they kept possession impressively and regularly threatened down the left hand side as they found Andy Wilkinson an easy target. The first clear cut chance though fell to Stoke`s James Beattie. After a mix up at the back Beattie stole in 20 yards out with only Cech to beat.
Unfortunately Beats scuffed his shot wide of the post and went down injured clutching his ankle. A bitter blow for Stoke and Beattie as the number 9 wasn`t able to continue and was replaced by Ricardo Fuller.
Despite the setback the Home side kept the pressure up as Dave Kitson threatened in the air and Rory Delap was keeping the Chelsea defence on their guard with his menacing throws.
Just after the half hour mark Stoke hit the front. After a string of corners and throws came to nothing the ball fell to Whelan who floated in a perfectly weighted cross towards the far post. Cech in the Chelsea goal made the perilous mistake of coming half way to claim the ball as he was caught in two minds. The Chelsea defence left Ab Faye unmarked as he headed over Cech to send the already vocal supporters wild.
Even more bad injury news for Stoke as Thomas Sorensen was forced to come off after hurting his back following a rather innocuous incident. He was replaced by Steve Simonsen who enjoyed a warm round of applause by the appreciative crowd.
The change in momentum following the injury saw Chelsea grow stronger and eventually equalise and in some style.
Ashley Cole and Florent Malouda who proved to be a nuisance supplied the opportunity for Frank Lampard to find a pocket of space. Once the England international found room he needed he received the ball and turned lightening fast before slipping a tremendous through ball through for Didier Drogba, the African striker held off the Stoke defenders before unleashing an unstoppable shot past Simonsen.
A huge roar met the players at half time as they went in at 1-1 despite two key players being taken off during the first half.
Chelsea dominated possession after the break but couldn`t break down the solid partnership of Faye, Shawcross and Robert Huth. The latter enjoyed his full debut against his former club as he looked at ease throughout the match.
In-front of the Boothen end Stoke kept the pressure up as Dave Kitson almost netted for the third time in a row after his header was just kept out by Cech.
Changes were made by both manages as Michael Essien and Nicolas Anelka were brought on for Chelsea and Tuncay for Stoke. Anelka immediately tested Simo as his long range effort was impressively tipped round the post.
As full-time neared the Blues were becoming more desperate for a winner as they pegged back the Potters and swarmed all over them. Anelka, Drogba and Lampard were all denied by the frantic defending of Danny Collins and Ab Faye.
Stoke then made a quick break away as Tuncay found himself through on goal but before he knew it Ashley Cole tracked back and denied him a great scoring opportunity.
Chelsea then went and broke Potters hearts as a long Juliano Belletti throw was only half cleared and Malouda was on hand to crack the ball through numerous bodies and into the bottom corner giving Simo no hope.
The result leaves Tp`s side 7th and a tricky trip to Bolton next week beckons before Manchester United visit the Brit in a fortnight.
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Date:Saturday September 12 2009
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