Last-gasp Blues stun Stoke
Florent Malouda struck deep into injury time as Chelsea maintained their 100 per cent record with a 2-1 victory at Stoke City. The Potters took the lead after 32 minutes of a hard-fought encounter when an unmarked Abdoulaye Faye headed Glenn Whelan's cross past an indecisive Petr Cech. Chelsea responded strongly and drew level during an eight-minute period of stoppage time at the end of the first half when Frank Lampard fed Didier Drogba and the in-form Ivorian turned and fired a powerful shot beyond substitute goalkeeper Steve Simonsen. The Blues laid siege to the Stoke penalty area during a one-sided second period but it looked as though they would drop their first points of the season as some heroic defending kept them at bay. However, Malouda smashed home a left-footed shot in the 94th minute to silence the Britannia Stadium crowd and keep Chelsea flying high at the top of the table. Physical battleChelsea got a taste of what was to come after two minutes when Ashley Cole lost possession when he was harried by Dave Kitson. The striker raced on but his cross was poor and Jose Bosingwa was able to clear with ease. Chelsea responded and Drogba tested Thomas Sorensen from distance after the ball had been played back to him by Salomon Kalou. James Beattie should have put Stoke ahead in the ninth minute but scuffed a shot wide when clear on goal. In the process he suffered a recurrence of his knee injury and was stretchered off in considerable discomfort. He was replaced by Ricardo Fuller in the 11th minute. Chelsea carved out another chance in the 23 minute when Bosingwa surged forward but Dean Whitehead made a good block. Stoke made the breakthrough in the 32nd minute after Glenn Whelan swung in a cross from the right. Skipper Faye was the first to react inside the area and powered a header beyond a stranded Cech. It was a test of character now for Carlo Ancelotti's men and the atmosphere was electric. Stoke lost their second player of the half with Sorensen coming off in the 41st minute after appearing to pull a muscle and was replaced by Simonsen. Mainly because of Beattie's injury eight minutes of added time were awarded and Drogba pulled Chelsea level with a shot into the corner after getting away from Faye following a superb through ball from Lampard. Chelsea almost took the lead a minute into the second half but Drogba hit his effort high over the bar after Michael Ballack had nodded the ball on. They were beginning to spray their passes about and asking questions of the home side. Dangerous Stoke are traditionally dangerous from set-pieces and there was a moment of danger for the visitors when Whelan delivered a free-kick into the area after 57 minutes but they failed to take advantage. A minute later Kitson peeled away from his marker after Whelan delivered the corner but his header went straight into Cech's arms. Robert Huth almost scored against his old club in the 63rd minute but sent his effort from inside the six-yard area over the top following another good corner from Whelan. Ancelotti then brought on Nicolas Anelka for Kalou a minute later in a bid to try and get the victory, not just one point. Stoke were forced to back pedal in the 68th minute when Bosingwa raced to the edge of the area, only to drag his effort wide. Chelsea stepped up the pace and Drogba thumped in a shot from an acute angle after 76 minutes but Faye made a brave block. Drogba then whipped in a free-kick from 25 yards, only for Simonsen to react well and turn his effort around the post. It was all hands to the pump now for Stoke as the visitors went in search of a fifth successive victory and they seemed to be holding out only for Malouda to have the last word.
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