Chelsea Late Show Maintains Status As Best Team in the World
Barney Corkhill's Unofficial World Club Championship (UWCC) witnessed another defence today as champions Chelsea took on Stoke at the Britannia Stadium.
Stoke had picked up maximum points from their two home games so far this season, and were looking to use their home advantage to pull off a shock result.
Chelsea, however, would undoubtedly prove to be tougher customers than Sunderland and Burnley, Stoke's two previous visitors to the Britannia, and were looking to extend their 100 percent record under Carlo Ancelotti in the league to five games.
Only a stoppage time goal allowed them to do that, however, as Chelsea eventually ran out 2-1 winners, much to the disappointment of the home crowd.
The win should deflect attention from the transfer ban imposed by FIFA, but Chelsea had to work hard for it.
Branislav Ivanovic's mistake inside the first 10 minutes almost gave Stoke a shock lead. He inadvertently provided a great chance for James Beattie, but the Stoke striker dragged his effort a long way wide, injuring himself in the process.
As has been the situation in all of their games so far this season, Chelsea dominated the possession. Despite this, no clear-cut chances were forthcoming and, for the third time already this season, they fell behind.
A cross from the right caused Petr Cech problems, and his indecisiveness was capitalised on by Abdoulaye Faye.
Predictably, Stoke looked to defend their lead, which led to even more Chelsea possession, which this time was turned into chances.
Ashley Cole saw his shot saved by Thomas Sorensen before Robert Huth flung himself in front of John Obi-Mikel's powerful effort.
It seemed like a matter of time before Chelsea broke Stoke's rearguard action, and they managed it at the end of the first half with eight minutes stoppage time being played.
It was in the third of those eight minutes that Chelsea struck. Frank Lampard's through ball found Didier Drogba, who used his strength to see off Faye before smashing a first-time effort past Steve Simonsen, who had earlier come on for the injured Sorensen.
The second half was incredibly one-sided, with Chelsea creating chances seemingly at will and making the most of Stoke's willingness to settle for a point.
Not for the first time this season, however, Chelsea struggled to turn those chances into goals.
Salomon Kalou came agonisingly close to connecting with Florent Malouda's cross before Drogba squandered a good chance, hammering the ball over the crossbar.
Stoke had their moments, however. Robert Huth nearly scored against his old club when he headed narrowly over the bar, but such moments were rare.
Chelsea pushed harder for the winner, with Frank Lampard and Michael Essien both coming close on a couple of occasions.
The chances continued to come but time was running out, and it looked as if Stoke would escape with a point until Florent Malouda popped up in stoppage time of the second half.
His rasping strike gave Chelsea a hard-earned and deserved point, but Tony Pulis can feel disappointed that his team's spirited defensive display wasn't rewarded.
The result means that Chelsea have extended their UWCC title record to 18 matches, twice as many as the previous record holders.
Malouda's late winner was his seventh UWCC goal, putting him third on the all-time list, and it was also the 150th goal in UWCC history.
Drogba's goal was his 11th, confirming him as the joint highest scorer with teammate Frank Lampard.
Chelsea's win is their fifth in a row, breaking the previous record of four in a row that was jointly held by Tottenham, Manchester United, and Chelsea themselves.
Of the 34 voters in the poll, 85.3 percent of them predicted that Stoke wouldn't be able to beat Chelsea, so well done to the majority!
Liverpool 1-3 Chelsea (Chelsea become new champions)
Chelsea 2-2 Manchester United (Chelsea won 4-1 on penalties)
Stoke 1-2 Chelsea
(Click here to see the complete history of Barney Corkhill's Unofficial World Club Championship)
Chelsea's next title defence comes on Tuesday as they kick off their Champions League campaign against Porto at Stamford Bridge. Can Porto finally take the UWCC out of England and become the best team in the world?!
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