Chelsea vs. Stoke City: Final score 3-0, Blues back on top

Mike Hewitt

Neither of the Premier League title contenders that played Saturday budged a bit. Chelsea joined Manchester City in posting three points.

Chelsea have dug themselves a bit of a hole with bad results against Crystal Palace and Aston Villa, but they appear to be back on the right track and up for a title challenge. They still need Manchester City to slip up to lift the Premier League trophy, but they're top of the league after their 3-0 win over Stoke City.

Mohamed Salah, who started in place of Eden Hazard, was brilliant on the day and scored Chelsea's first goal in the 32nd minute. Nemanja Matic was the unlikely provider, breaking into the box and running towards the byline before he cut the ball back towards the penalty spot. Asmir Begovic got a piece of the resulting shot from Salah, but it was too powerful for the Stoke keeper to slap away.

The Blues kept the pressure on until the end of the half and were a bit unlucky not to double their lead. Branislav Ivanovic scored in the 41st minute, but had his goal waved off by the assistant referee for being offside by the slimmest of margins.

Stoke made two changes at halftime, and it was unclear if they were tactical, injury-related, or a combination of the two. Andy Wilkinson and Charlie Adam came on, with Geoff Cameron and Wilson Palacios exiting.

If Wilkinson's introduction was purely tactical, it was a bad decision by Mark Hughes. He gave away a penalty just 15 minutes after coming on, and it was a bad one. The Stoke defender lost Salah in the penalty area and responded by hacking him down with an awful scissor challenge, which miraculously didn't earn him a booking. Frank Lampard's penalty was saved, but Chelsea's all-time leading scorer followed up and poked in the rebound.

Willian added a third for Chelsea in the 73rd minute, sealing a simple win with a beautiful curled effort to the top corner from 20 yards out.

Chelsea: Cech, Azpilicueta, Terry, Cahill, Ivanovic, Lampard (Luiz 70'), Matic, Schürrle (Hazard 59'), Willian (Cole 78'), Salah, Torres

Goals: Salah (32'), Lampard (61'), Willian (73')

Stoke: Begovic, Pieters, Shawcross, Wilson, Cameron (Wilkinson 46'), Whelan, Palacios (Adam 46'), N'Zonzi, Arnautovic, Crouch (Walters 79'), Odemwingie

Goals: None

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