Remy’s winner puts Chelsea seven clear

Chelsea 2 Stoke City 1

Loic Remy’s second-half winner took Chelsea seven points clear at the top of the table.

Eden Hazard put them ahead with a 38th-minute penalty before Charlie Adam hauled Stoke level with a sensational strike just before the interval.

Spotting keeper Thibaut Courtois off his line, Adam unleashed a left-footed effort from 10 yards inside his own half to score one of the best Premier League goals ever.

Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho responded by bringing Diego Costa on at half-time but the striker lasted only 11 minutes before limping off.

The hosts kept pressing, however, and regained the lead on 62 minutes following an error by Potters keeper Asmir Begovic, whose misplaced clearance led to Hazard teeing up Remy for a simple finish.

The victory leaves Mourinho’s side comfortably clear of Arsenal, who moved into second by thrashing Liverpool.

Manchester City, now fourth, will cut the gap to six points if they win at Crystal Palace on Monday.

Hazard’s opener came after Cesc Fabregas had been tripped in the area by Philipp Wollscheid, and Chelsea were largely comfortable before Adam’s leveller, although Steven Nzonzi had curled a shot over the bar following John Terry’s wayward clearance.

Costa returned to training this week but was not deemed fit enough to start.

The sight of him hobbling away from the pitch, seemingly after suffering a recurrence of a hamstring problem, was a worrying sight for Chelsea’s fans.

But their mood was soon lifted when Willian intercepted Begovic’s kick and the ball then fell to Hazard, who darted into the penalty area before unselfishly passing to Remy, enabling the Frenchman to net his seventh goal of the season.

Substitute Juan Cuadrado was denied a clinching third home goal after some more brilliant work from Hazard.

But to their credit, Stoke did not give up and almost levelled again when Nzonzi’s shot shaved the outside of the post.

Chelsea: Courtois; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta; Matic, Fabregas; Willian, Oscar (Costa 45, Drogba 56), Hazard; Remy (Cuadrado 63).
Subs not used: Cech, Zouma, Filipe Luis, Ramires.

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