Chelsea 1 Stoke 0: Fuller sees Red as Blues triumph

Didier Drogba stroked home the only goal of the game to secure Roberto Di Matteo his first 3 points as caretaker boss, against a 10 man Stoke team, which moved them level on points with 4th placed Arsenal.
Chelsea fans were left puzzled by a starting line-up missing Sturridge, Torres, and Juan Mata, but they started the better team in a first half that was lacking any real creativity, or final ball.
The first effort game after just 9 minutes, when Gary Cahill burst forward and let loose a brilliant long range effort stopped from Begovic.
Chelsea were then handed a great opportunity half way through the first half as Ivanovic challenged Ricardo Fuller for the ball, before the Stoke striker inexplicably stamped down on him after the ball had gone. The linesman quickly signalled this to referee, and after a quick chat, had no choice but to produce the red card.
The home team then picked up the pace, with  John Terry heading against the cross bar, as Chelsea looked to turn the screw with the extra man.
Ivanovic was getting all sorts of space down the right hand side, but his final ball wasn’t great, although did hammer a shot against the crossbar near the end of the half, as Stoke attempted to hold them out until half time.
That was the last notable action of the first half, as muffled sounds broke around Stamford Bridge, fans seemingly worried it might be ‘another one of those days’.
Stoke held their defence well at the start of the second half, and refused to be broken down, until a John Terry screaming effort from 30 yards whistled just wide of the post nearer the hour mark.
Chelsea became even more frustrated, but were handed a great scoring chance when Upson hauled down Lampard just outside the area, but Begovic was equal to Drogbas free-kick, and did extremely well to palm over.
Just minutes later, and Didier Drogba broke the deadlock, receiving the ball in the area, calmly rounding the goalkeeper before slotting home his 100th Premier League goal, and finally break down the Stoke resistance.
Sighs of relief around the ground, as Chelsea became cautious and tried to keep the one goal lead, as Stoke then bossed the game for a while, troubling The Blues with their long ball tactics, despite being a man lighter.
Chelsea came back into the game more, troubling a lot from set-plays, with Juan Mata then striking a post from a free-kick, but when the ball was played back in, Sturridge was offside when he tapped home.
The game fizzled out a bit near the end, with Chelsea keen to take the 3 points, especially due to their rivals Liverpool losing at Sunderland, who are now 10 points behind in the race for 4th place.
The win moves Chelsea level on points with Arsenal, who play Monday, and just 4 points behind 3rd placed Tottenham, who are currently in action against Everton at Goodison Park.
Chelseas next action is against Napoli on Wednesday, where they look to overcome a 3-1 deficit, and move into the next stage of the Champions League.


By Brad Smith


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