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Page last updated at 15:59 GMT, Saturday, 27 September 2008 16:59 UK

Stoke 0-2 Chelsea

By Owen Phillips

Didier Drogba leaps to deny Salif Diao
Didier Drogba leaps to deny Salif Diao at the Britannia Stadium

Chelsea saw off Stoke to rack up their sixth Premier League away win in a row and return to the top of the table.

The visitors dominated the first half and Jose Bosingwa latched onto a fine Frank Lampard pass to crash the ball in via Andy Griffin for the opener.

A spirited Stoke side rallied after the break and Leon Cort had a towering header cleared off the line.

But Chelsea wrapped up the win when Nicolas Anelka fired home after a terrible blunder by Cort.

Deprived of the considerable goal threat of Rory Delap's long throws because of a hamstring injury, Stoke were outclassed for most of the first half but until Anelka's late strike they were always a threat from set-pieces.

Pulis praised Chelsea after the game

Even the appearance of boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard could not help Stoke punch above their weight and contain a Chelsea side who had not lost a league game since going down to Arsenal in mid-December of last year.

Michael Ballack was at the heart of everything good about the visitors' attacking play in the opening half-hour, twice forcing Thomas Sorensen into decent saves from a fierce 20-yard shot and a downward header from a corner.

The German was also involved in teeing up a below-par Didier Drogba, who was making his first league start of the season, but the Ivorian's clever flicked shot was excellently saved by the Danish keeper.

The home side caused confusion with a couple of dangerous set-pieces, one of which saw a Mamady Sidibe header comfortably saved by Petr Cech.

However, moments later Chelsea took the lead after some wonderful interplay between Bosingwa, Lampard, and Salomon Kalou.

Jose Bosingwa
Bosingwa is all smiles after firing Chelsea ahead

Lampard's glorious weighted pass sent Bosingwa free on the right-hand side of the penalty box and the Portuguese smashed his shot into the net via the unfortunate Griffin.

The Londoners should have been two up within moments of the restart but Lampard's deflected shot went inches wide and then a terrible defensive blunder by Abdoulaye Faye saw Florent Malouda's shot crash off the bar by way of a wonderful one-handed stop by Sorensen.

But Stoke started to take chances at the back and were still a danger from set-pieces.

My players are full of confidence - Scolari

Their best chance saw Cort's powerful header brilliantly cleared off the line by the retreating Jon Mikel Obi.

But after a sustained spell of Stoke pressure, half-time substitute Anelka smashed the ball low past Sorensen after a mistake by Cort.

Lampard could and should have added a third late on but Chelsea eased home with little concern in the final 14 minutes.

And Arsenal's shock defeat at home to Hull means Luiz Felipe Scolari's men will finish the weekend unexpectedly on top of the table.

Stoke manager Tony Pulis:
"Their second goal killed us we had a little bit of steam up in the second second half and had really got into the game but that finished us off.

"They had a lot of possession, they are a smashing team and have all the attributes. They were excellent.

"But they are on a different level and can hurt you on in all areas and we just have to go out and compete. And although I have no complaints about the result, we weren't bowled over."

"We have to take positives out of the game and cannot get down in the dumps. We competed well against Chelsea and Liverpool."

Chelsea manager Luiz Felipe Scolari:
"It is impossible to play beautiful football all the time and it was difficult against Stoke. Whenever we made a mistake they arrived and tried to put the ball in the box. We had to pay attention.


"But we kept our shape and that was important. It was fantastic to get a win like this as Stoke created only one or two chances. We always want to play football but sometimes the other team does not think that way. They just want to live off your mistakes.

"They were physical and compact and we tried to move the ball before they pressured us. We had the ball around their goal many times but could not score. But our performance was very good."

Stoke: Sorensen, Griffin, Cort, Abdoulaye Faye, Higginbotham, Lawrence (Tonge 65), Diao, Olofinjana, Cresswell, Kitson (Fuller 52), Sidibe (Amdy Faye 81).
Subs Not Used: Simonsen, Whelan, Soares, Sonko.

Booked: Griffin, Cresswell.

Chelsea: Cech, Bosingwa, Alex, Terry, Ashley Cole, Obi, Kalou (Anelka 46), Ballack (Ferreira 89), Lampard, Malouda, Drogba (Belletti 73).
Subs Not Used: Hilario, Ivanovic, Sinclair, Bridge.

Booked: Malouda.

Goals: Bosingwa 36, Anelka 76.

Att: 27,500.

Ref: Martin Atkinson (W Yorkshire).

BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match:
Chelsea's Jose Bosingwa 7.88 (on 90 minutes).

Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.

see also
Premier League as it happened
27 Sep 08 |  Premier League
Saturday's football photos
27 Sep 08 |  Football
How to watch Match of the Day
08 Oct 07 |  Match of the Day

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