Chelsea vs Stoke match report: Eden Hazard and Loic Remy fire Chelsea into seven point lead despite brilliant Charlie Adam goal

Chelsea 2 Stoke City 1

At this point, the idea of Chelsea somehow failing to win this title seems a longer shot than Charlie Adam’s brilliant goal. Although Diego Costa may face a lengthy absence after a recurrence of his hamstring injury, although the Stoke midfielder caught out a still-suspect defence with one of the strikes of the season, Chelsea persevered to take all three points and go seven clear of second place.

The only complication for what should be a relatively easy run-in is the fact Costa suffered such a difficult evening, as he was taken off just 10 minutes after coming on as a sub in anguished scenes so reminiscent of his end to last season with Atletico Madrid.

Having been flat on the ground in pain, the Spain international then had to be helped off the pitch by two Chelsea staff members. His  manager Jose Mourinho said he will be out for at least two weeks, but they will not know for certain until Monday.

Despite that, the Portuguese insisted that putting the forward on – at a stage of the game when it was 1-1 and Chelsea were looking a little toothless – was not a gamble. He also insisted that, as a medical department at a club that challenges, they have to take such decisions.

“It’s too early to determine how long he will be out,” Mourinho said. “We have to wait 48 hours, do all the scans again. He will be out for two weeks for sure, but we still have seven weeks of the season to go, and eight matches for sure. Half of it he has to be with us.

“I don’t say [it was] a gamble because we did every test, every scan. The player trained two days 100 per cent with the team. The medical department were convinced he was ready. The player was convinced he was ready, not for 90 per cent but to play and help the team.

“As a manager you have to risk things tactically, the medical department has to do the same if they want to be top medical departments like ours is. The safe medical department can’t work with me.”

Chelsea did need to take more risks in their play, as the effervescent Eden Hazard was the single source of creativity. He had put Chelsea ahead with a casually rolled-in penalty after Cesc Fabregas had been felled by Philipp Wollscheid on 39 minutes, only for Adam to respond within minutes with one of the goals of the season, if not the decade.

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Eden Hazard rolled in a cool penalty for the opener

The midfielder picked the ball up 65 yards from goal, looked up and launched an effort over the scrabbling Thibaut Courtois’s head. It was sensational.

“I didn’t enjoy it,” Mourinho smiled afterwards, “but it’s the goal that every top player in the world would love to score.”

Adam himself said: “I never knew I had that much power, to beat a quality goalkeeper like that is something special. One that I will always remember. It was one of them that sat up nicely and I saw the goalie off his line. I was lucky enough that it went in. Once in a lifetime this can happen to you.”

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Charlie Adam equalised with a breathtaking goal from inside his own half

Meanwhile Chelsea were frustrated by Asmir Begovic in the Stoke goal as he made brilliant save after brilliant save, only to gift them the game. His attempt at a pass out went straight to Hazard, who then ripped into the box before squaring for Loïc Rémy to finish easily. It was the striker’s second successive match-winner for Chelsea.

“It’s fantastic for the boy to play in the last two matches and score two winning goals,” Mourinho said. “Very important points for us, and important for him to feel that happiness.”

 

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Not fit enough to start, Diego Costa lasted just 11 minutes after coming on before he had to go back off again

Mourinho also declared himself very happy with the performance, particularly given the stage of the season. “A victory is a victory. Yesterday I sent an SMS to [Middlesbrough manager Aitor] Karanka. They won 1-0, and I told him 1-0 in April is like 10-0 in November. For us is no different. You win titles playing well over a season, the team is very good, but in the countdown it’s about everything.

He added: “The most important thing is that our countdown went from [needing] six victories and one draw to five and one draw.” It’s far from a long shot.

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Chelsea capitalised on an Asmir Begovic mistake for Loic Remy to score the winner

Chelsea: (4-2-3-1) Courtois; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta; Matic, Fabregas; Willian, Oscar (Costa, 45; Drogba, 55), Hazard; Remy (Cuadrado, 62)

Stoke City: (4-4-1-1) Begovic; Cameron, Shawcross, Wollscheid, Wilson; Ireland (Crouch, 78), N’Zonzi, Whelan, Adam (Pieters, 78); Walters; Diouf (Arnautovic, 62)

Referee: Jonathan Moss.

Man of the match: Hazard (Chelsea).

Match rating: 7/10.

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