23rd of September 2017

Morata-Pedro partnership down Potters (0-4)

An Alvaro Morata hat-trick, all scored with his feet, plus a Pedro goal secured the Blues a fifth straight away win. The Blues, looking to get back on the winning trail in the Premier League after last week’s draw against Arsenal were quickly out the blocks against Stoke, finding the net through Morata with the game barely underway.

Pedro smashed in the second with half-an-hour gone and we were well on the way to the win. Mark Hughes’ side showed fight however and came back at Chelsea without finding the net and a brilliant second goal scored by Morata, inside the final quarter-of-an-hour, was quickly followed by his third and the team's fourth and victory plus third-place in the table were assured.

There were eight changes from the midweek cup win with Morata one of those returning. Andreas Christensen retained his place as David Luiz’s replacement in the middle of the back-three with Cesar Azpilicueta starting on the right. Toni Rudiger was preferred to Gary Cahill on the left.

And what a return it was to the starting line-up for our Spanish striker! His finish inside one-and-a-quarter minutes was sublime.

Chelsea had to face a Shaqiri free-kick soon after when Bakayoko fouled on the edge of the area but that flew off the wall and behind for a corner.

Central midfield pair Tiemoue Bakayoko and N’Golo Kante deserve credit for the way they brought the ball out from the back and Azpilicueta spotted Morata’s run way ahead. The ball was perfect to beat the offside against Stoke’s makeshift back-three and Morata was one on one with Jack Butland.

He placed the ball past the goalie and just inside the far post. After three headed goals for Chelsea, the summer signing had the first off his boot.

Azpilicueta had to clear from inside the Chelsea six-yard area when Mame Diouf crossed before the Blues next tested the home side’s rearguard, shorn of the injured Ryan Shawcross, Geoff Cameron and Kevin Wimmer. Our former player Glen Johnson had been drafted in.

While Stoke attempted a series of shots which were comfortably blocked by blue shirts, we were patiently looking for a way in behind the Potters rearguard once again. Consequently it was some time before either side truly threatened the opposition goal. Willian chased a seemingly lost cause and managed to cross but Johnson cleared before it reached Morata.

Chelsea’s next chance and our second goal came courtesy of a mistake by Stoke skipper Darren Fletcher who despite his experience, chested a ball back towards his goal which Pedro was onto in a flash. Two touches later, our no.11 had lashed the ball past Butland and into the back of the net. The game was in the 30th minute and the visitors were 2-0 ahead.

Kante was not far from playing Pedro in on goal 10 minutes before half-time which was followed by the Potters’ best minutes of the game so far. Included was a brief goalmouth scramble after a Stoke corner and Fletcher had a shot blocked after Rudiger had done well to cut a cross out for a corner.

Then Diouf made an acrobatic attempt to score at the far post but shot wide so our two-goal advantage remained intact going in at the interval.

The Blues had never lost a league game under Antonio Conte when we were leading at half-time and were not about to start today, although we were made to work hard for victory by Stoke for much of the rest of the game.

Shaqiri was a booking for dissent shortly after the restart and Alonso entered the book too not long after for a foul. It all began to get a bit heated with the Stoke crowd unhappy about our wing-back needing treatment after an aerial collision and then a second foul by him. Kante was later booked for a foul inside our half.

When play restarted, Joe Allen cleared the Chelsea crossbar with a well-struck attempt.

With Peter Crouch about to come on, Conte took the decision to replace Alonso with Cahill. Stoke were putting pressure on now and when substitute Crouch headed down, Diouf went close to scoring.

There was further concern when Courtois landed badly when attempting to deal with a corner. In the gap for treatment for the Belgian, Cesc Fabregas was introduced in place of Pedro. Stoke were still looking the more likely to score next so Eden Hazard also came on with Willian the man off. There were just under 20 minutes to play.

Chelsea got forward and Azpilicueta, now playing left wing-back, nearly found his opposite number Moses with a cross to the far post. Courtois then saved a header from Maxim Choupo-Moting.

Then with 77 minutes played, Morata put pay to the Potters’ resistance with a goal of pure class. Johnson lost the ball for Stoke on halfway and neither he nor Fletcher could do anything about it as Morata’s pace left them for dead and from the left, his right-foot lift past Butland was precision personified.

Chelsea were back on top and Johnson cleared off the line from Hazard after Moses found him. Then came the Morata hat-trick goal. Fabregas was the architect with a lofted pass to Azpilicueta who chested down and his compatriot finished from close range.

Morata twice went close to making it 5-0 but the four was more than enough for the team to get a tremendous ovation from the away fans as they left the pitch. Shortly before the final whistle, Crouch was lucky to only see yellow for a foul on Fabregas which can easily draw comparisons with the one by David Luiz in the Arsenal game.

This result equals Chelsea’s record win away to Stoke and we take our good form to Madrid next, the in-form Morata’s home city.

- Match stats:

Chelsea (3-4-3): Courtois; Azpilicueta (c), Christensen, Rudiger; Moses, Kante, Bakayoko, Alonso (Cahill 58), Willian (Hazard 72), Morata, Pedro (Fabregas 68).
Unused subs Caballero, Zappocosta, Musonda, Batshuayi.
Scorers Morata 2, 78, 82, Pedro 30
Booked Alonso 51, Kante 56

Stoke (3-4-3): Butland; Johnson, Martins Indi (Afellay 76), Pieters; Diouf, Fletcher (c), Allen, Ramadan; Shaqiri, Choupo-Moting, Jese (Crouch 60).
Unused subs Grant; Berahino, Tymon, Adam, Souttar.
Booked Shaqiri 49, Crouch 89.

Referee Mike Dean
Crowd 29,661

- Match report by chelseafc.com


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