Writer: Niall Cope
Date:Saturday January 12 2013
The Britannia Stadium
Stoke City`s fine home record in the Premier League came to a crushing end after Chelsea romped to a 4-0 victory at a chilly Britannia Stadium.
Two own goals from Jon Walters either side of half-time set the visitors on their way, before a Frank Lampard penalty and a spectacular effort from Eden Hazard sent the Potters to defeat for the first time in 18 games at home.
Walters even had time to miss out on an unconventional hat-trick after missing a penalty in the closing stages of the game.
Tony Pulis decided to make six changes after a goalless draw away to Crystal Palace last weekend, but continued with a 4-5-1 formation despite seeing his side not score in the previous two fixtures.
It was Stoke who were the brighter side in the opening stages as they went about unsettling a Chelsea side that had to make a late change to their defence after Gary Cahill left the squad to be at the bedside of his pregnant partner.
Kenwyne Jones had a great chance after eight minutes, but after latching onto a deflected shot the giant striker was unable to direct his effort on goal with Petr Cech bearing down on him.
Stoke continued to apply the pressure but were unable to break the deadlock from a number of in-swinging corners and tame long-range efforts.
Chelsea started to gain a stranglehold of the game after soaking up the pressure and almost took the lead midway through the half, but after some fine approach play, Frank Lampard was thwarted by Asmir Begovic at point-blank range.
City`s keeper, who is being touted as a possible transfer target for Manchester United, added a few more pounds to his price tag shortly after when he saved Demba Ba`s close-range shot with his feet.
Stoke were resolute in defence but were relying heavily on the bravery of local player Andy Wilkinson who was putting his body in the way of some of Chelsea`s stinging shots at goal. However with half-time approaching the Stoke rearguard was breached by one of their own.
After failing to deal adequately from a Hazard corner, the ball was dangerously whipped back into the penalty area by Cesar Azpilicueta and Walters - under pressure inside the six yard box - headed into his own net.
The Potters came out for the second period intent on causing their opposition more problems and almost had the opportunity to level within minutes, but after referee Andre Marriner had pointed to the penalty spot, he reversed his decision when realising his assistant had already raise her flag for offside.
Stoke were once again thankful to Begovic for keeping them in the contest when he denied Ashley Cole at his near post, but the Bosnian couldn`t do much as the Blues extend their lead minutes later.
An in-swinging corner from Chelsea`s left was headed into his own net by Walters, under pressure from Frank Lampard who had ghosted towards the near post.
That goal seemed to knock the stuffing out of Tony Pulis`s men and they were three behind seconds after the restart. After a jinking run by Juan Mata was illegally stopped by Ryan Shawcross inside the penalty area, it allowed Lampard to drill home from the spot.
Lampard almost grabbed himself a second but was once again thwarted at point-blank range by Begovic, however the 'keeper was helpless when Hazard fired home a 30 yard screamer that flashed into the top left-hand corner.
Stoke mustered long-range shot though Charlie Adam and Steven Nzonzi which caused concern for Cech in the Chelsea goal, but the contest has long been won by that stage.
A plethora of substitutions were made by both managers before Walters had the chance to make amends for his two own goals after being brought down in the inside the penalty area, but he blazed over Cech`s crossbar from 12 yards.
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Date:Saturday January 12 2013
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