Premier League - Chelsea on top with Stoke win

Eurosport - Sat, 28 Aug 15:57:00 2010

Chelsea returned to the top of the Premier League table with a 2-0 win over Stoke City at Stamford Bridge.

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Frank Lampard had a penalty saved, but Florent Malouda's first-half strike and Didier Drogba's second-half penalty were more than enough to seal the victory that sends them back above Arsenal, following the Gunners' win at Blackburn earlier on Saturday.

The champions never hit the blistering form that saw them net 29 goals in their previous five Premier League matches, but they still found themselves ahead just after the half-hour mark at the culmination of a dominant spell.

John Terry brought the ball forward and slipped a pass between the two centre-backs for Malouda to latch on to, and the Frenchman stabbed the ball past Thomas Sorensen.

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Chelsea 2 Stoke 0

Drogba then doubled the lead and, like Malouda, bagged his fourth of the season on 77 minutes. Nicolas Anelka won the spot-kick when he sprinted after a long ball over the top and beat Sorensen to the punch. The Danish keeper elected not to dive at the striker's feet, but his attempt at a tackle still tripped the Frenchman over and referee Martin Atkinson pointed to the spot. Drogba succeeded where Lampard had earlier failed by hammering the dead ball into the top corner as the keeper dived the wrong way.

The Blues could have been ahead from 12 yards much earlier after Ryan Shawcross brought down Malouda in the area after just 10 minutes. Lampard placed the ball on the penalty spot but, just as in May's FA Cup final and England's pre-World Cup friendly against Japan, he failed to convert, his low strike hit too close to Sorensen. At the time, six of the last eight Premier League penalties Sorensen had faced were either missed or saved, though Drogba's strike would later put a dent in that record.

That penalty came after an open first 10 minutes in which Dean Whitehead's low strike forced a save from Petr Cech, Jon Walters's effort landed on the roof of the net and Ashley Cole saw his shot trickle wide of the far post.

Cole was then unlucky not to get on the scoresheet in emphatic fashion soon after Malouda had opened the scoring. Drogba chipped the ball into the Stoke box and the England left-back had a stunning volley on the turn that crashed off the crossbar.

After another open spell after the break in which Drogba headed right at Sorensen before blocking a Matthew Etherington strike, Chelsea for a long time looked in full control.

However, substitute Glenn Whelan came agonisingly close to levelling for the Potters when his rasping long-range strike crashed off the underside of the crossbar and out with Petr Cech well beaten.

Terry stayed on the field despite coming off worse in a 50-50 clash with Rory Delap, but Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti introduced Salomon Kalou, Daniel Sturridge and finally debutant Ramires in the latter stages.

Sturridge and Kalou both came close to extending their side's lead, with the former sidefooting wide of the far post and the latter drawing a smothering save from Sorensen, but by then the game was up and the champions were back on top.

Online readers in the UK can watch highlights of this match right here on Monday morning.

Tony Mabert / Eurosport

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