Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Chelsea in pursuit for the Domestic Double


Chelsea 7 - 0 Stoke

Salomon Kalou's hat-trick helped a rampant Chelsea thrash Stoke and return to the top of the Premier League.
Kalou headed home Didier Drogba's cross before Stoke keeper Thomas Sorensen sustained a dislocated elbow as Kalou slid in to score his second goal.
Lampard made it 3-0 from the spot after Robert Huth fouled Kalou, who then ran clear to complete his hat-trick.
Lampard hooked home a fifth and Daniel Sturridge's cool finish and a Florent Malouda tap-in completed the rout.
Chelsea move a point clear at the summit with two games to go and their performance was an emphatic response to last week's defeat by Tottenham that had given Manchester United renewed hope in the title race.
United had beaten Spurs on Saturday to overhaul the Blues at the top of the table but, before they faced Stoke, Carlo Ancelotti's side still knew that they would win the Premier League for the first time since 2006 if they won their three remaining matches.
If the Blues felt the pressure, they did not show it; pouring forward from the start.
And, while next weekend's visit to face Liverpool at Anfield is seen as Chelsea's most problematic fixture, the Potters are not known for being easily rolled over so the manner in which Ancelotti's side went about their task was even more impressive.
Ashley Cole, making his first appearance since suffering an ankle injury on 10 February, came close to breaking the deadlock early on, following up after Sorensen had pushed away Lampard's 25-yard effort but seeing the Dane keep out his snap-shot.
Sorensen produced an even better stop to save Drogba's near-post header from Paulo Ferreira, before Drogba fired wildly over after he had taken the ball around the Potters keeper.
It seemed just a matter of time until Chelsea made the breakthrough, and their opening goal duly arrived on 24 minutes.
Drogba brought down Malouda's cross-field pass with a brilliant touch and sent over an inviting cross from the right for Kalou to stoop and head home from close range.
A second goal quickly followed but there was controversy over the way Kalou followed up Lampard's first-time shot to put the ball in the net, with Sorensen taken to hospital after being caught by his wild challenge for the loose ball.
Stoke could also be unhappy about referee Steve Bennett's decision to let Lampard extend Chelsea's lead from the spot before the break, as Huth tangled with Kalou outside the box but the winger stayed on his feet until he got inside the area.
With the game all but won, there was an element of lethargy about the Blues at the start of the second half and it appeared they were happy to save their energy for that crunch clash with Liverpool on 2 May.

Stoke had 'backsides slapped' - Pulis

But the final 21 minutes saw a glut of goals which reflected the home side's complete dominance and could also prove crucial should the title come down to goal difference.
First Lampard released Kalou, who cut in from the right and fired home the rebound after Stoke's replacement keeper Asmir Begovic saved his first effort.
Malouda then somehow failed to convert Nicolas Anelka's cross despite being virtually on the goal-line and he was also denied by Begovic's instinctive save.
There was no stopping Chelsea, however, and Sam Hutchinson's superb cross from the right was brilliantly turned in by Lampard at the far post, for his 20th league goal of the season.
Before the end, Drogba set Sturridge free to round Begovic and slot home his first league goal since joining Chelsea.
And with the Stoke defence in pieces, Malouda met Joe Cole's low cross to score number seven from close range and round off a stunning victory.
Stoke boss Tony Pulis:
"Chelsea were very good but we turned up and one or two were complacent, we've got to be 100% to compete in this company and we weren't.
"They were far the better team, we were lucky to get nil. We had our pants pulled down and our backsides slapped.
"The team means 11 players having a go not five or six, we were poor we didn't make it very difficult for them."

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