Chelsea concedes long-range shot but recovers to beat Stoke
LONDON (AP) — Chelsea responded to conceding from Charlie Adam’s ultra long-range strike and losing Diego Costa to a hamstring injury by beating Stoke 2-1, moving seven points clear at the top of the Premier League on Saturday.
Adam’s 65-yard (meter) shot from inside his own half soared over Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, canceling out Eden Hazard’s opener from the penalty spot before Loic Remy struck the winner.
“The disappointing thing is we lost the game,” Adam said. “On a personal note it is a great goal to score. I saw the ’keeper off his line, had an effort, and it has gone in.
“I always have a look at the goalkeeper because these balls move so much. When you have got that much space and time it is good to do something like that.”
Chelsea leads Arsenal by seven points with a game in hand. Manchester United is a further point behind in third, while Manchester City is nine points behind in fourth ahead of Monday’s trip to Crystal Palace.
“We started the game needing six wins and one draw to be champions and now we need five wins and a draw so it is a massive victory for us,” Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said. “It was difficult but deserved. In the first half we controlled the game and had the ball and tried to penetrate through a very well-organized road block.”
Hazard’s penalty was just Chelsea’s third in the Premier League this season and first for five months. It was a statistic which was highlighted last month by Chelsea’s website in an article headlined ‘Penalty puzzle’ in apparent support of Mourinho’s frustration with match officials.
Stoke may have had reason to feel aggrieved as Philipp Wollscheid made minimal contact with Cesc Fabregas with a sliding challenge for the spot kick in the 39th minute.
The lead lasted just five minutes, though, as Hazard fell in the left channel and the ball was fed to Adam, who drilled the ball over a back-pedalling Courtois to equalize.
The Blues then had further cause for complaint as Hazard was felled in the buildup to Adam’s audacious strike.
It might have left Mourinho wondering if Petr Cech would have been beaten from that distance, but rather than swap his goalkeeper at halftime, the Blues boss turned to Costa, who came on for Oscar.
Mourinho had been hoping to keep Costa in reserve after a hamstring injury against Hull saw him miss international duty with Spain. But Costa was introduced at halftime only to be forced off 11 minutes later, with Didier Drogba coming on.
“He will be out for sure a couple of weeks, but we have seven weeks until the end of the season,” Mourinho said of top-scorer Costa.
Without Costa, Chelsea was back in front in the 62nd, helped by Stoke’s goalkeeping shortcoming.
Asmir Begovic’s poor throw toward Steven Nzonzi was intercepted by Willian. Then Hazard ran at the Stoke goal before feeding Remy for a simple finish.
It was the striker’s fifth Premier League goal of the season on his fourth start, but he immediately made way for Juan Cuadrado.
Nzonzi hit the outside of the post from 25 yards as Stoke sought to reply swiftly for a second time.
Hazard tried to conjure a third after a one-two with Drogba but Cuadrado’s effort was saved and Begovic smothered the follow up.
But Chelsea saw out a first home victory in almost two months.