Mata inspires vibrant Chelsea
Chelsea showed there really might be no place like home on Saturday as they ended their Everton hoodoo with a 3-1 win at Stamford Bridge. The Blues' recent results against Everton on their own ground might have been reason enough for them to want to move to a new stadium, but they swept to their first victory over their bogey side since the 2009 FA Cup final. Everton had also not lost on their previous five league visits to Stamford Bridge, although they had not had to contend with Juan Mata, who was Chelsea's inspiration. The Spain winger started the move that broke the deadlock - Daniel Sturridge nodding home his fourth goal of the season - and laid on the third for Ramires after John Terry scored on his 350th Premier League appearance. There was to be no clean sheet for the Chelsea captain, with Apostolos Vellios grabbing a late consolation with his first touch after coming off the bench. The win nevertheless saw Andre Villas-Boas' men capitalise on Manchester United's draw at Liverpool and put them back within three points of new leaders Manchester City. Saturday was Chelsea's first match since they announced their bid to buy back the freehold of Stamford Bridge, which they sold to a supporter-led group - Chelsea Pitch Owners - in the 1990s. Opponents of their proposal, which has been seen as a precursor to a move to a new stadium, distributed leaflets before the game in the hope of rallying support. The visitors might have been tempted to back the 'Say No CPO' campaign themselves so impressive was their record at Stamford Bridge, and they looked set to extend it in the opening half hour as Chelsea toiled. Didier Drogba almost played Ramires clean through but Sylvain Distin intervened, while Everton showed their threat on the break when Louis Saha fired straight at Petr Cech. Marouane Fellaini was booked for catching Ramires in the 16th minute but he might have given the otherwise well-drilled visitors the lead five minutes later, a heavy touch allowing John Obi Mikel to intercept. Chelsea were crying out for some inspiration and when it finally arrived in the 31st minute, the source was no surprise. Mata brilliantly picked out Ashley Cole's surge into the box and the left-back stood up a first-time cross which Sturridge simply could not fail to nod into the net. Everton continued to look more than capable of scoring themselves, but were undone again in first-half stoppage-time when Seamus Coleman fouled Cole and Terry beat Tim Howard to nod home Frank Lampard's free-kick. Leon Osman almost pulled a goal back straight after the restart with a shot that shaved the outside of the post, but with the comfort of a two-goal lead, Chelsea soon began putting together some lovely passages of play. Drogba inexplicably stopped running when Jose Bosingwa looked set to put the ball on a plate for the striker and although Osman drilled over, Everton boss David Moyes decided to act, withdrawing Coleman for Royston Drenthe just past the hour mark. No sooner had he done so and it was game over, a sweeping Chelsea move seeing Mata exchange passes with Drogba before sending in a low cross which was inch-perfect for Ramires to slide home. Ramires appeared to hurt himself beating two defenders to the ball and had to be helped from the field after the restart, with Florent Malouda coming on. Sturridge was then controversially booked for diving when challenged by Drenthe, the striker open-mouthed in disbelief at the verdict. Everton brought on club captain Phil Neville for Cahill and Chelsea responded soon after by withdrawing Mikel and the outstanding Mata for Oriol Romeu and Nicolas Anelka. The Blues were in cruise control but were denied their first clean sheet since the opening day of the league season when Moyes threw on Vellios for Saha nine minutes from time and watched the substitute immediately slide home Drenthe's cross. It was merely a consolation and Lampard might have made it 4-1 in stoppage-time when he volleyed Drogba's chest down straight at Howard.
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