An early free kick, a penalty and a late winner. A fiery game that looked as though Stoke could take another point from a top 4 side, but Mr Cahil had other ideas.
The first half
Stoke started brightly and showed good initiative moving the ball forward. They managed to keep possession within the opponents half. Leaving Chelsea with little possession outside their own half. The referee had to step in to stop a Costa and Martins Indi battle from escalating further. Well done ref.
Thirteen minutes in and Chelsea break down the left with Marcos Alonso. Marko Arnautovic tracked back well but infringed the travelling Alonso. Willian stepped up for the resulting free kick and smashed it home at the near post. Lee Grant may be slightly embarrassed by the opener. Although Grant got both hands to ball he just couldn’t keep it out. In his defence he was probably looking at a cross coming in.
The game started to get a bit more physical. In the 15th minute Joe Allen receiving a yellow for a foul on Pedro. Two minutes later and Costa, after continually trying to initiate confrontation was shown the 2nd yellow of the game. On the 25 minute mark Jonathon Walters clashed with David Luiz. The aerial collision left Luiz a little dazed but not for long. The incident will add at least two minutes injury time.
Chelsea started piling on some pressure and the 29th minute saw Grant called upon from point blank range. A clever little chip allowed Alonso to hit a first time effort which should of made it 2-0 to the league leaders. Grant had other ideas and made up for his early mistake.
The Alonso scare has seemed to give Stoke a lift and The Potters are looking to get forward like they did early on. Arnautovic crosses well and forces N’Golo Kante to clear for a corner. The resulting corner is headed onto Martins Indi by Geoff Cameron. Bruno manages to head passed the Chelsea keeper but the offside flag is raised. Saido Berahino was judged to be interfering with play.
Stoke are unlucky not to be level and are looking more and more likely to get one. 37 minutes in and a free kick aimed towards Walters goes astray. Walters hits the deck from the softest of touches from Cahil and the ref points to the spot. Walters makes no mistake and converts with ease. A soft penalty shout but a deserved equaliser all the same.
An incident involving Ryan Shawcross and Costa created a scene on 39 minutes showing that the game is definatley stepping up. Neither team want to lose this. A minute later and Costa is involved again. This time he is fouled by Phil Bardsley Who is shown a yellow. Stoke looked the better team approaching half time and maybe should of went into the break 2-1 up.
The second half
Stoke started the 2nd half in much the same way as the first. 48 minutes gone and Chelsea are heading the opposite way with a counter. Pedro looks to be through but good defensive work from Cameron forces a corner to Chelsea.
54 minutes in and Erik Pieters is taken off the field for treatment after a clash with Willian. 2 minutes later and Pieters returns to the field. Nothing more than a knock to his knee.
Mark Hughes has seen enough of the non existing Berahino and replaces him with Mame Diouf on the 61st. Pieters has fully recovered from the earlier knock and literally takes one for the team, chopping down an advancing Pedro. Martins Indi also receives a yellow but the reason is unclear. Alonso takes the free kick and beats Grant. Luckily for Stoke the crossbar saves the day.
Victor Moses and Alonso have been pretty tame today thanks to the tracking of Marko Arnautovic and Jonathan Walters. For this reason Antonio Conte introduces Cesc Fabregas for Moses. A formation change to 4-2-3-1. The change allows Chelsea to push on looking for a winner. Stoke however are battling for everything and making it difficult for Chelsea.
87 minutes gone and Erik Pieters fails to clear a corner placing the ball into the path of Cahil. Cahil slots home from 8 yards. Another defensive error leads to a goal.
The final 9 minutes (3 plus stoppage) showed the frustration of a battling Stoke side. Cameron was booked and Phil Bardsley saw red. A needless foul gave Bardsley a second yellow.
A good effort by The Potters wasted by two errors. I cant help but think Stoke could of got something from the game. The effort was unquestionable but Hughes will have to take a look defending set pieces when next on the training field.