Stoke City 1-2 Chelsea
Carlo Ancelotti must have been living on his nerves as Stoke threw themselves into every challenge and looked like taking a point they will feel they deserved after taking the lead and then putting in a terrific defensive performance.
Stoke manager Tony Pulis has assembled a team that battles and scratches for every 50-50 ball and it almost did the trick as they rattled
Stoke lost two key players in the first half with James Beattie and then Thomas Sorensen going off injured but they refused to cave in and gave as good as they got.
However Beattie should have put Stoke ahead in the ninth minute when capitalising on a Branislav Ivanovic slip and going clean on goal, but he opted to shoot quickly and scuffed his effort.
In the process he landed awkwardly on his ankle and was stretchered off in considerable discomfort. He was replaced by Ricardo Fuller in the 11th minute.
Glenn Whelan swung in a cross from the right and skipper Abdoulaye Faye was the first to react inside the area to power a header beyond Petr Cech, who was stranded in no-mans land after coming and then going back.
It was a test of character now for Ancelotti’s men and the atmosphere was electric, but Stoke lost their second player of the half in the 41st minute with Sorensen replaced by Steve Simonsen after appearing to pull a muscle.
Eight minutes of added time were awarded due to the two delays and Drogba pulled
They were beginning to spray their passes about and asking questions of the home side but Stoke are traditionally dangerous from set-pieces and there was a moment of danger for the visitors in the 57th minute when Whelan delivered a free-kick into the area that was not taken advantage of.
A minute later Kitson had a great chance when he peeled away from his marker after Whelan delivered the corner, but the striker’s header went straight into Cech’s arms.
Robert Huth almost scored against his old club in the 63rd minute but he sent his effort from inside the six-yard area over the top following another good corner from Whelan.
From then on, it was all
Drogba then whipped in a free-kick from 25 yards, only for Simonsen to react well and turn his effort around the post.
It was all hands to the pump now for Stoke as the visitors went in search of fifth successive victory but they seemed to be frustrated only for Malouda to have the last word with an effort that Simonsen will feel he should have saved.