Match Report: Two Jonathan Walters howlers set Chelsea en route to rout

Stoke 0 Chelsea 4: Stoke striker gives Rafael Benitez’s men a huge helping hand when he misses penalty, too

Britannia Stadium

They say any port in a storm will do and so it is proving for Chelsea.

Away from the toxic atmosphere in the stands at Stamford Bridge, the Londoners are on quite a roll. This was Chelsea’s sixth successive away victory under Rafael Benitez and it was undoubtedly their most impressive as they tore apart a Stoke City team who had not lost at home since last February.

Admittedly this Potteries outpost does not intimidate Chelsea as it does other clubs – the Londoners are unbeaten here since 1975 – but three days after their League Cup semi-final home loss to Swansea City, Chelsea showed that their crises are strictly relative, no matter how well-publicised.

Yes, they may have lost two successive home games, yes, fans may be unhappy about Benitez being there and about Frank Lampard’s approaching departure, but as transitional seasons go, things really could be worse as they moved up to third place, four points behind Manchester City. As Benitez noted afterwards: “Every week we can’t be thinking ‘crisis, not crisis’. We are scoring more goals than the team was scoring in the past, we are conceding half the goals.”

While Chelsea’s good day was capped by John Terry’s return from injury with an 11-minute substitute cameo, this really was the worst of days for Jon Walters, the Stoke forward who headed two own-goals and blazed over a late penalty to earn ironic “man of the match” chants from the away end. Chelsea added to Walters’ unwanted double with a Lampard penalty and Eden Hazard wonder goal to inflict Stoke’s heaviest top-flight defeat at the Britannia.

Chelsea have hit 20 goals in this sequence of six away victories and explaining the contrast between this and the home blanks against QPR and Swansea, Benitez noted how: “You play away and they come [at] you, you have more space behind and the movement of your players can kill them.”

Chelsea came into the game showing some significant changes after that League Cup semi-final loss. Petr Cech was back in goal and there were starting roles for Lampard and Ryan Bertrand in midfield and up front for Demba Ba, the latter taking the place, predictably, of Fernando Torres.

With Gary Cahill absent for the birth of his boy, David Luiz joined Branislav Ivanovic in the heart of Chelsea’s defence and they had an early let-off after seven minutes when Andy Wilkinson’s deflected shot ran to Kenwyne Jones, but he steered his shot a whisker wide.

That was as close as Stoke would come, and Chelsea nearly broke through in the 25th minute after one passage of prolonged possession ended with Hazard and Ba combining to play in Lampard but Asmir  Begovic flicked out a boot to divert the midfielder’s first-time shot. Lampard then created a chance for Ba with a high ball behind Robert Huth that the striker latched on to. Begovic was equal to the shot, however, and Wilkinson’s superb tackle stopped Ramires turning in the loose ball.

Stoke’s defending was less impressive in first-half stoppage time as Walters dived in ahead of Juan Mata to head Cesar Azpilicueta’s cross into his own net. It was a goal with its origin in Lampard’s willingness to chase a lost cause, the midfielder closing down Geoff Cameron to win a throw. From Mata’s resulting cross, neither Wilkinson nor Etherington could clear and Hazard set up Azpilicueta to cross.

The second half began with Ashley Cole testing Begovic with a near-post drive, but Stoke came again with Steven Nzonzi’s powerful strike drawing a fingertip save from Cech. Etherington then went down in the box under a challenge by Azpilicueta but Sian Massey’s raised flag indicated that the winger had been offside.

The contest was over in the 62nd minute with Walters’ second own goal, the forward nodding in Mata’s corner under pressure from Lampard. “The second goal kills us,” said Tony Pulis, the Stoke manager.

Two minutes later, it was three as Lampard struck from the spot. It looked a harsh decision by Andre Marriner as although Mata had Huth behind him and Ryan Shawcross in front of him neither man seemed to make much contact. “Robert has his hand on his shoulder but Mata’s legs collapse,” complained Pulis. Regardless, Lampard lashed in goal 194 of his Chelsea career, eight behind Bobby Tambling’s all-time record.

Hazard made it four, collecting the ball some 30 metres out, turned into space and unleashed a superb angled shot which flew wide of Begovic’s right hand and left the net bulging.

Stoke (4-5-1): Begovic; Cameron, Shawcross, Huth, Wilkinson; Walters, Whelan, Adam (Whitehead, 79), Nzonzi, Etherington (Kightly, 86); Jones (Jerome, 78).

Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Cech; Azpilicueta (Ferreira, 83), Ivanovic, Luiz, Cole; Lampard, Ramires; Hazard, Mata (Terry, 79), Bertrand; Ba Mani. Dieke; Asante, Scott; Carney, Little.

Referee: Andre Marriner.

Man of the match: Lampard (Chelsea)

Match rating: 7/10

News
Howard Marks has been diagnosed with inoperable cancer, he has announced
people
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
Rowan Atkinson at the wheel of his McLaren F1 GTR sports car
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
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

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us