Diouf heads home to give Stoke deserved point at Chelsea
5th March 2016
Mame Biram Diouf late goal earned Stoke a deserved point at Stamford Bridge in an entertaining fixture.
Diouf capitalised on a Thibaut Courtois mistake to score his first goal since September to cancel out Bertrand Traore`s opener, and give Stoke their first point at Stamford Bridge since 1984.
The Potters impressed once again as they extended their unbeaten run to four, following three straight victories as Mark Hughes` troops continue to push for a European spot.
Mame Diouf returned to the starting line-up in place of Jonathan Walters, and could have come away from Stamford Bridge with the match ball.
The Senegalese ran the forward line well on his return and could have opened the scoring after some superb work by Ibrahim Afellay on the left flank, but Diouf could only put over from inside the penalty area as he was forced to stretch to reach the ball before the onrushing Courtois.
The forward had another chance to open the scoring but he couldn`t direct his effort on target once more. Shaqiri had managed to find space on the right wing and pull a ball back to Diouf, but with the ball behind the striker and going away from goal, it was difficult to direct towards goal.
Stoke`s midfield continued to impress, with all five players producing fine displays and showing off their individual characteristics.
Gianelli Imbula, Stoke`s record signing was still the shining light of the operation though, as he broke up play and marauded into direct, exciting runs that put Stoke firmly on the front foot a number of times. The French midfielder showed an expansive passing range once more which has started to bring the best out his teammates.
The player that has shown the most impressive upturn in form since Imbula`s arrival has been former record signing Xherdan Shaqiri.
The Swiss international has looked extremely confident on the right wing, making impressive dribbles and runs, whilst playing with much more creativity and produced high quality crosses that have put the opponents under pressure.
For all the positives during the first half, Stoke couldn`t break the deadlock and were punished as Ibrahim Afellay was caught in possession and Bertrand Traore managed to create space on the edge of the area and lash past Jack Butland.
The goal did not dishearten Stoke, who continued to push forward and created a number of chances to bring the game level.
Arnautovic unleashed a rasping shot from 25-yards which Courtois did well to parry away.
Hughes made a positive substitute as the creative midfielder Bojan was brought on in place of the more defensive minded Glenn Whelan, which gave Stoke another lease of life and energy in search of a leveller.
The game could have been over though as Marc Muniesa was Oscar inside the area, but Clattenburg waved away appeals for a penalty.
Stoke continued to push and Xherdan Shaqiri nearly made it two goals in two, but his driving run and shot was well saved by Courtois once again.
The Potters finally got back on level terms after Xherdan Shaqiri was released on the right wing and produced a terrific cross in the corridor of uncertainty, which looked destined to find Marko Arnautovic at the far post, but Courtois managed to parry, but only into the path of Diouf, who powered a header in from 10-yards out.
Stoke sensed that they could get more than just a point, and with five minutes remaining, continued to pile forward.
Imbula picked up the ball once again in the midfield, and managed to drive from the halfway line, taking on player after player, before finding himself on the byline inside the penalty area, he pulled back to Bojan, who managed to create himself some space to shot, but Courtois managed to save and gather the rebound ahead of the onrushing Joselu.