English Premiership

Drogba fires Chelsea revival

2012-03-10 20:08
Didier Drogba (File)

London - Didier Drogba's 100th English Premiership goal was enough to beat 10-man Stoke City at Stamford Bridge and maintain Chelsea's challenge for a top four finish.

The win moved the Blues level on points with fourth-placed Arsenal who were due to face Newcastle United at the Emirates Stadium on Monday.

And Drogba's 68th-minute goal ensured caretaker-manager Roberto Di Matteo savoured victory in his first Premier League game since taking charge of the side following the dismissal of Andre Villas-Boas last weekend.

But Di Matteo - who also oversaw a midweek FA Cup victory at Birmingham - knows his side will have to perform better if they are to overcome a 3-1 first leg deficit when they face Napoli in the Champions League next week.

Stoke were forced to play with ten men for over an hour following the 25th minute dismissal of Ricardo Fuller for a stamp on Branislav Ivanovic.

But while Chelsea dominated possession, they struggled to break the visitors down until Drogba produced an excellent finish following good work by Juan Mata.

The margin of victory could have been greater had a late Mata free kick not struck the woodwork as Stoke tired late on.

But overall, this was a scrappy display that confirmed Chelsea's problems this season and Di Matteo faces a testing challenge if he is to revive the club's campaign.

The caretaker-manager opted to start with Mata and Daniel Sturridge on the bench, perhaps with one eye on the Napoli game.

But the absence of the two forwards did nothing to hinder Chelsea's early attacking moves with the home side quickly laying siege to the Stoke goal.

Ivanovic had clearly been given the green light to get forward at every opportunity and the Serbia defender came close with a fourth minute header from Frank Lampard's corner.

In fact the right back was his side's greatest attacking threat during the first half.

But it was Ivanovic's running tussle with Fuller that led to the decisive moment of opening 45 minutes.

The two had clashed off the ball when Stoke broke rapidly through Jonathan Walters, prompting City manager Tony Pulis to react angrily when no free kick was given.

And the incident clearly left its mark on Fuller who reacted with an ugly stamp on Ivanovic when he was tripped attempting to go past the defender.

A red card was inevitable, leaving Stoke to play with ten men for over an hour.

Already on top, Chelsea should have found it easy to step up the tempo and take control of the game.

But Di Matteo's side struggled to translate their territorial dominance into meaningful chances, even after the Chelsea manager introduced Mata for Raul Meireles after just 37 minutes.

John Terry sent a header against the bar and it took a good save from City keeper Asmir Begovic to deny Ivanovic after the Chelsea man had made a powerful run forward before exchanging a neat one-two with Lampard.

And Ivanovic came closer still four minutes from the break when he lashed a powerful volley against the bar with Begovic with the keeper beaten.

It was clear, though, that Chelsea were growing increasingly frustrated, particularly when Stoke took every opportunity to slow the game down after the break.

Lampard and Terry both fired in long range efforts but Stoke's well organised defence limited the home side's efforts to press further forward.

Chelsea needed a spark of individual quality to find a way through and it almost came in the 66th minute when Drogba curled in a free kick that Begovic did well to claw to safety.

But the keeper was unable to deny the Ivorian two minutes later when the striker was picked out by a superb reverse pass, rounded Begovic and side-footed the ball into the empty net.

Stoke had offered little going forward and, having fallen behind, were never likely to muster a reply.

Read more on:    epl

Igesund to hear his fate

0 minutes ago


Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

19 April 2014
Tottenham Hotspur v Fulham, White Hart Lane 13:45
West Ham United v Crystal Palace, Boleyn Ground 16:00
Cardiff City v Stoke City, Cardiff City Stadium 16:00
Newcastle United v Swansea City, St. James' Park 16:00
Aston Villa v Southampton, Villa Park 16:00
Chelsea v Sunderland, Stamford Bridge 18:30
20 April 2014
Norwich City v Liverpool, Carrow Road 13:00
Hull City v Arsenal, The KC Stadium 15:05
Everton v Manchester United, Goodison Park 17:10
21 April 2014
Manchester City v West Bromwich Albion, Etihad Stadium 21:00
Team P W PTS
Previous Results

Date Home Team Result Away Team

Which team do you think will win the English Premiership?

Featured Blog

The stock of Bulls and Sharks 2014 Super Rugby jerseys are slowly becoming available after the festive season break, writes blogger Baylion.

Latest blogs

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Newsletters Sign up for the Morning Glory, Super 15 and Soccer newsletters

Blogs Yes your opinion counts. Get it out there

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

Mobile Sport24 on your mobile phone - WAP, alerts, downloads, services

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

iPhone Latest Sport24 news on your iPhone

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

TV schedule Plan your couch time with our searchable sport TV guide

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.