Late Malouda strike shatters Stoke

Posted Saturday, September 12, 2009 by PA

Carlo Ancelotti saw his Chelsea side stretch their 100% record to five matches at the Britannia Stadium as a stoppage-time goal from Florent Malouda secured a 2-1 victory.

The Italian coach must have been living on his nerves as Stoke threw themselves into every challenge and looked like taking a point.

However, Chelsea kept plugging away and got their rewards when Malouda finished well following a knock back from Nicolas Anelka.

Stoke manager Tony Pulis has assembled a team that battles and scratches for every 50-50 ball.

It almost did the trick again and Chelsea were rattled, especially in the first half, and it is doubtful if they have had many tougher physical tests.

Stoke lost two players in the first half with James Beattie and then Thomas Sorensen going off injured but refused to cave in.

Chelsea 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 Didier Drogba tested Sorensen from distance after the ball had been played back to him by Salomon Kalou.

Beattie should have put Stoke ahead in the ninth minute but scuffed a shot wide when clear on goal.

In the process he suffered an ankle injury and was stretchered off in considerable discomfort, with Ricardo Fuller coming on in his place.

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 Abdoulaye Faye was the first to react inside the area and powered a header beyond a stranded Petr Cech.

It was a test of character now for 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 Steve 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 Frank 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.

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 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 fifth successive victory and they seemed to be holding out only for Malouda to have the last word.

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