Malouda maintains Chelsea's perfection

Stoke City 1 Chelsea 2: Stoke left feeling blue after being worn down by League leaders

If evidence were needed of Chelsea's capacity to overcome the impact of Fifa's transfer embargo and mount a sustainable title challenge, Florent Malouda's injury-time winner provided it by continuing their 100 per cent winning start to the season. Demonstrating considerable resolve against a whole-hearted Stoke City, it was a victory which set down a marker to their Premier League rivals.

Stunned by the sanctions imposed by Fifa this week, which have banned Chelsea from signing any new players until January 2011, it is a fair bet manager Carlo Ancelotti would have chosen any fixture other than a trip to the Britannia Stadium to finish off a difficult week.

Yet after falling behind to a Stoke side strengthened by £18.5m worth of signings in the recent transfer window, Chelsea delivered a performance sure to provoke unease among their rivals after equalling a club-record 10th successive victory in the top division. "We got what we deserved," Ancelotti observed.

Once the Premier League's most enthusiastic transfer window shoppers, Chelsea's victory underlined the strength of the squad available to Ancelotti even if their appeal to Fifa fails to reduce their ban. They have already been told by the game's governing body they will not be allowed to recall players on season-long loans to boost a squad which will be depleted by the African Cup of Nations in January.

Mindful of Tuesday's Champions' League opening match against Porto, particularly after two international matches in the last week for the majority of his squad, Ancelotti shuffled his pack to rest Michael Essien, Ricardo Carvalho and Nicolas Anelka and still emerged with the three points.

As if facing a Chelsea side with a point to prove was not a big enough challenge, Stoke lost both goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen and forward James Beattie before the interval through injury, yet they still came within minutes of taking the first points of the season off the Premier League leaders.

Beattie passed a late fitness test on a troublesome knee but lasted only eight minutes. Chasing a long ball, he panicked Branislav Ivanovic into a mistake but pulled his half-volley wide and the subsequent collision ended his contest.

Stoke overcame that setback impressively, testing Chelsea's defence with a series of set-pieces which led to the breakthrough. A cleared corner was whipped back into the penalty area by midfielder Glenn Whelan and captain Abdoulaye Faye's uncontested header put them in front.

Their ability to defend that lead was tested further by the loss of Sorensen as the interval approached after he clutched his right hip after a clearance. Given eight minutes of extra time because of the two injuries, Chelsea took advantage with Didier Drogba running on to Frank Lampard's intelligent reverse pass to fire past substitute goalkeeper Steve Simonsen from the left-hand side of the penalty area.

Set-pieces remained Stoke's best chance of restoring their lead and twice they went close with Robert Huth heading over against his former club from another Whelan corner, while Petr Cech made a good, low save from Dave Kitson in similar circumstances.

The introduction of Essien and Anelka midway through the second period provided them with a renewed impetus as they strived for a late winner. Faye, the outstanding leader of a defiant five-man Stoke defence, made blocks to deny both Lampard and Drogba as both sides becoming frantic in the final stages.

Stoke manager Tony Pulis introduced new signing Tuncay to try to ensure a greater share of possession without great success for the final stages as Chelsea continued to press for a winner which finally presented itself to Malouda on the edge of the box in injury time.

"It's desperately disappointing because they scored a late winner against us at Stamford Bridge last season," said Pulis. "When you play against the best teams they wear you down. It is very hard to keep p ossession so you get tired chasing around and that's why the top-four teams get a lot of late goals."

Attendance: 27,440

Referee: Mike Dean

Man of the match: Faye

Match rating: 7/10

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Books should be for everyone, says Els, 8. Publisher Scholastic now agrees
booksAn eight-year-old saw a pirate book was ‘for boys’ and took on the publishers
Life and Style
Mary Beard received abuse after speaking positively on 'Question Time' about immigrant workers: 'When people say ridiculous, untrue and hurtful things, then I think you should call them out'
tech
Life and Style
Most mail-order brides are thought to come from Thailand, the Philippines and Romania
life
News
i100
Life and Style
tech
Voices
Margaret Thatcher, with her director of publicity Sir Gordon Reece, who helped her and the Tory Party to victory in 1979
voicesThe subject is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for former PR man DJ Taylor
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions