London - Charlie Adam joined the select band of footballers who have scored
from inside their own half but finished a loser as Stoke City lost 2-1
at Chelsea on Saturday.
Loic Remy's 62nd-minute effort gave
Chelsea victory after Adam had quickly cancelled out Eden Hazard's
39th-minute penalty as Jose Mourinho's side extended their lead in the
Premier League to seven points.
It was far from a convincing
victory, but with Manchester City not due to face Crystal Palace until
Monday, it ensured Chelsea will remain at least six points clear with a
game in hand after the latest round of matches.
Their rivals have
just seven games to close the gap and while Mourinho's side may be
offering only brief flashes of their best form, it would be a major
shock if they failed to end the season as champions.
though, came at the cost of a worrying injury to Diego Costa, who
limped out of the game just 10 minutes after appearing as a half-time
The forward withdrew from the Spain squad for the
recent international break because of a hamstring problem and Mourinho
suggested he would now be sidelined for around two weeks.
had felt moved to introduce the Brazil-born striker for the ineffective
Oscar after his side had laboured through the first half and looked in
danger of once again dropping points at home.
Chelsea's last home
league game had ended in a 1-1 draw with Southampton, which followed the
2-2 stalemate with Paris Saint-Germain that resulted in Mourinho's side
going out of the Champions League on the away goals rule.
when Adam beat Thibaut Courtois with a memorable long-range effort from
over 10 yards inside his own half a minute before the interval, there
were growing home fears of another slip-up.
In the end, however, a
bad mistake by Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic led to Remy's decisive
goal and the home team rarely looked troubled from that point on.
to that, Begovic had produced a string of fine saves to prevent Chelsea
taking control, starting with a second-minute stop that repelled Remy's
A defensive mix-up in the Chelsea box allowed Steven
Nzonzi to target Courtois's goal, but Chelsea - and in particular,
Hazard - offered the greater threat, albeit without ever truly hitting
A neatly worked passing move deserved better than a
tame, misdirected finish from Oscar, but the breakthrough finally came
when Cesc Fabregas was sent free inside the Stoke area by a Willian
The Spain international - who had earlier required
treatment after appearing to be caught by Adam's elbow - turned
sharply, drawing a foul from Stoke centre-back Philipp Wollscheid.
There was little doubt about the decision and Hazard beat Begovic comfortably from the spot, sending the Bosnian the wrong way.
needed a quick response and it came in spectacular fashion when
Jonathan Walters headed Geoff Cameron's defensive clearance into the
path of Adam.
The Scotland midfielder was standing outside the
centre circle in his own half, but spotting Courtois outside his penalty
area, he dispatched a floating shot that the goalkeeper was unable to
keep out as he dashed back towards his goal in desperation.
equaliser gave Stoke a lift at just the right time, but Chelsea emerged
with greater intent and overcame the loss of Costa when Begovic's
attempt to roll the ball out to one of his defenders was intercepted by
The Brazilian played the ball to Hazard, who squared for
Remy, and the striker rolled the ball into an empty net to ensure
Chelsea's title bid remained firmly on course.