Chelsea vs. Stoke: Late Chelsea Victory as It Happened
Chelsea 1-0 Stoke
Chelsea: Cech; Ivanovic, David Luiz, Cahill, Cole; Ramires, Obi Mikel (Lampard 81'), Mata (Terry 89'), Oscar, Hazard (Moses 62'); Torres
Subs: Turnbull, Azpilicueta, Terry, Bertrand, Romeu, Lampard, Moses
Stoke: Begovic; Cameron, Shawcross, Huth, Wilson; Walters, Whelan, N'Zonzi, Adam (Owen 64'), Kightly (Etherington 71'); Crouch (Jones 75')
Subs: Sorensen, Jones, Owen, Whitehead, Upson, Etherington, Shotton
LIVE BLOG END
Thank you all for following along with me, and I enjoyed your company on this Saturday morning.
Stay logged into Bleacher Report for reaction to Chelsea's win, and I'll be around later to tell you what we learned from this crucial win.
In the meantime, enjoy your weekend and I hope to see you all again for more great football in the future.
Chelsea were certainly not at their best, but they got the result they needed and remain at the top of the Barclays Premier League table. There will certainly have to be improvement if they are to retain that top spot, though, and Roman Abromavich surely wants to see more from his side.
Chelsea scrap and claw their way to an extremely hard-fought victory through a late goal from a man who had not scored in one-and-a-half years and some of the pressure is off Roberto Di Matteo and his side.
Stoke will feel hard-done, but they couldn't quite hold out for the full 90 minutes and were never likely to get more than a draw from this game.
90+6—A scuffle breaks out now between Matthew Etherington and Branislav Ivanovic, but only a free-kick comes out of it. We're still going...
90+4—Well into the four minutes of stoppage time we have here, and Chelsea have a goal kick. Just about a minute to go now.
90+1—Stoke just hitting their desperate long-balls forward, but to no avail. Chelsea break once again, but more desperate defending prevents a second goal.
David Luiz, meanwhile, goes flying in on Jonathan Walters and will get a yellow card, despite the Stoke players surrounding the referee and demanding a red card.
89'—Substitution for Chelsea
John Terry finally comes on for Juan Mata to help Chelsea see out the game. A perfectly timed substitution.
88'—Incredible stuff, this! Stoke throw everyone forward on a set-piece, Juan Mata and Victor Moses steal the ball and break away, but a fantastic challenge while tracking back prevented a second goal.
Amazing last-ditch defending to save any hope for Stoke.
Ashley Cole has finally given Chelsea the lead! A fluent attacking move ends with a low ball from Branislav Ivanovic being flicked on by Juan Mata into the path of Cole at the penalty spot, who deftly lifted the ball over Begovic to make it 1-0.
84'—Stoke take a free-kick from the left side, there is some chaos in the box as the ball is headed down into a crowded web of feet, but it's eventually cleared.
Stoke, however, retain possession in Chelsea's half.
82'—If you guessed Frank Lampard, have a pat on the back:
Substitution for Chelsea:
Frank Lampard on for John Obi Mikel. Fairly straightforward attacking for defending sub there, and a Lampard goal would set Stamford Bridge alight.
81'—Guess who's about to come on for Chelsea? Hint: he wears No. 8 and has scored a few goals from midfield over the last decade or so.
79'—From the Twitterverse:
Very positive sub for Stoke, Kighty off, Etherington on. K. Jones to come on as well - when he's sorted his kit. Which he now has.— Philippe Auclair (@PhilippeAuclair) September 22, 2012
77'—Ooh, John Obi Mikel made a marauding run into the box, tried a slightly awkward shot from the right side of the box intended for the far corner, but it was deflected into the air and Begovic caught it under pressure.
That would have been Chelsea's first goal of the game and Obi Mikel's first Premier League goal of his career.
75'—Substitution for Stoke:
Kenwyne Jones replaces Peter Crouch. Jones makes his first Premier League appearance of the season in a like-for-like change that will force David Luiz and Gary Cahill to deal with a different battering ram.
74'—Substitution for Stoke:
Matthew Etherington comes on for Michael Kightly as Tony Pulis puts yet more attackers into his side. This change actually happened a couple minutes ago, but I never had a chance to update you.
71'—Despite a couple errors, Oscar has been Chelsea's best player thus far, creating more than his fair share of chances and almost breaking the deadlock a couple times.
If anyone manufactures the chance that wins Chelsea this match, it will surely be him.
70'—Victor Moses has looked rather impressive since he came on, but his teammates haven't quite picked up the slack.
As the game slows down again, Stoke become more and more entrenched in their deep defensive line and it becomes more difficult for Chelsea to break through.
67'—Ooh, Oscar had a decent shot there, Begovic was caught a little out of position due to a deflection, but it didn't have enough power behind it and the goalkeeper just barely hangs on.
The tension in this game is becoming more and more palpable, as Chelsea become increasingly desperate to break through.
66'—Every time Chelsea get into Stoke's penalty area and think that they're through on goal or have a shot on, they get thwarted by a last-ditch challenge from someone in a red and white shirt.
This time it's Ryan Shawcross on Juan Mata, and Chelsea will have to regroup.
64'—Substitution for Stoke:
Michael Owen on for Charlie Adam. Looks like Tony Pulis is prepared to open this game up a little bit and go for Chelsea's throats. Encouraging move.
63'—Roman Abromavich looks rather nonplussed in his luxury box. Make of that what you will, but I would not be too excited if I owned Chelsea at the moment.
62'—And, what do you know, it has:
Substitution for Chelsea:
Victor Moses on for Eden Hazard. A move that could potentially reinvigorate Chelsea's attack, and Moses is given his home debut.
61'—Looks like Victor Moses will come on for Eden Hazard shortly. I'll update you when it becomes official.
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