Chelsea top again after seeing off Stoke

Chelsea 3 Stoke City 0

Mohamed Salah marked his first start for Chelsea with a goal as they moved back to the top of the Premier League.

January signing Salah fired them ahead on 32 minutes and second-half goals from Frank Lampard and Willian sealed a resounding victory.

Lampard netted from the rebound after his penalty had been saved by Asmir Begovic, before Willian curled in the third.

The result put Jose Mourinho’s side a point clear of second-placed Liverpool, who visit West Ham on Sunday, and two points better off than Manchester City, who have a game in hand.

Chelsea’s all-important opener was created by the imposing Nemanja Matic, who forced his way to the left-hand touchline and pulled the ball back to Salah.

An off-balance Begovic attempted to keep out Salah’s fierce shot but the keeper’s outstretched leg only helped the ball into the roof of the net.

A Chelsea goal had seemed inevitable as they were well on top, with Begovic denying Salah, Lampard, Willian and the recalled Fernando Torres, while Branislav Ivanovic headed wide and scooped a shot over before the deadlock was broken.

And after Salah’s strike, Ivanovic thought he had doubled the lead but was he marginally offside when he headed in Lampard’s right-wing cross five minutes before half-time.

Stoke boss Mark Hughes temporarily stemmed the tide by bringing on Charlie Adam and workhorse Andy Wilkinson for the second half – a change that made the visitors look much more solid.

But the introduction of the rested Eden Hazard just before the hour mark gave Chelsea added impetus.

Soon after coming on, Hazard cleverly flicked the ball into the Salah’s path and the Egyptian was clumsily brought down by Wilkinson.

Lampard belted the resulting spot-kick straight at Begovic but was then able to poke the loose ball into the net.

The tireless Willian’s endeavour was rewarded on 73 minutes when he collected Salah’s pass and steered the ball beyond Begovic from just outside the area.

Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta; Matic, Lampard (Luiz 70); Salah, Willian (Cole 75), Schurrle (Hazard 58); Torres.
Subs not used: Schwarzer, Oscar, Ba, Kalas.

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