Stoke 0 Chelsea 4
Chelsea recorded an emphatic win at the Britannia Stadium to keep their Champions League ambitions intact.
Rafa Benitez made six changes for the trip to Stoke, compared to the eleven that started against Queens Park Rangers. Amongst them were Petr Cech, who returned from injury, Demba Ba, our January transfer window signing and Ryan Bertrand playing in midfield. On the bench, having played 45 minutes for the U21 side was John Terry, side-lined since early November with a knee injury.
First Half - Chelsea started well but Stoke had the first chance when a shot from Wilkinson was deflected straight to Jones but with the goal at his mercy he shot wide. The early chance seemed to inspire Stoke ad Chelsea were being pinned back with the home side spreading the ball out wide to the dangerous looking Jon Walters. The pressure was such that Demba Ba was forced to make two decent clearances.
Begovic then produced a decent save after Chelsea engineered a chance which resulted in Lampard striking a shot, from a Ba flick, from twelve yards out that the keeper kept out with his outstretched leg. Lampard then provided a great ball for Ba to strike but Begovic produced yet another good save to keep it at 0-0.
Now on top Chelsea were pushing to get that opening goal but as half time approached Cech was forced into a fine save from a rasping long range shot from Whelan. Just before the break though Chelsea were to take the lead when Azpilicueta delivered a telling cross that looked to be heading towards Mata only for Jon Walters to spectacularly beat his own keeper.
Second Half - Chelsea started the half well and a move involving Ba and Ashley Cole saw the full back force another good save out of Begovic, once again with an outstretched leg. Stoke were denied a penalty, correctly, when the female assistant, Sian Massey, advised the referee, Andre Marriner, that no offence had been committed by Azpilicueta, on Etherington, as the player was in fact offside.
Chelsea then doubled their lead courtesy of another own goal from Jon Waters when the Stoke player inadvertently saw the ball strike his head and fly into the net. Chelsea then stretched the lead to 3-0, in the 64th minute, when Lampard scored from the spot after Mata was fouled by Robert Huth in the area. The penalty saw Lampard become the second highest scorer in Chelsea`s history with 194 goals.
A ball to the far post, headed down by Bertrand saw Begovic produce another great save from Lampard. Ba was substituted by Torres before Eden Hazard made it 4-0 with a quite exquisite goal. The Belgian slipped past two challenges before unleashing a wonderful shot that beat Begovic from something like 35 yards out.
With the game safe Rafa introduced John Terry to give our captain some much needed game time replacing Juan Mata. Stoke won a late penalty when Terry got too close to Walters and fired well over the bar summing up his day.