Chelsea leave it late to defeat Stoke City

It ultimately sealed their 19th win in their last 22 league games, with Stoke's misery completed when Bardsley received his marching orders in the dying seconds after receiving a second yellow card for a foul on Cesc Fabregas.

"I think the great news is that Diego is showing [himself] to be a great player, also in this aspect. I want to continue this way".

Antonio Conte praised Diego Costa's "great discipline" in the face of physical Stoke City defending after Chelsea battled to a 2-1 win that extends their lead at the top of the Premier League to 13 points.

Though one could wonder if Lee Grant could have done better with the effort from the Brazilian.

Stoke's defenders recognised that he was ripe for being wound up after his early indiscretion and succeeded to an extent in riling him.

Having earlier conceded a penalty, Gary Cahill fired in an 87th-minute victor at the bet365 Stadium to spark wild celebrations among the Blues' players and staff at a venue where a loss last November dropped them to 16th in the table.

They dominated in the second half and their patience was rewarded when Cahill, who had given away the penalty, popped up with the victor three minutes from time.

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Erik Pieters shouldered the blame for Stoke City's 2-1 defeat at home to Chelsea, a result Mark Hughes believes guarantees the Blues the Premier League title.

Conte's Chelsea, though, have reverted to Mourinho's 2014-15 model - solid in defence, resilient and imbued with real team spirit.

He said: "I'm pleased because to come to this point of the season and to play against Stoke you must be prepared mentally and physically".

"It's hard to take because we played well, we created some chances as well and I think we should have got a point".

"There are 10 games to go, the win is a good signal for us".

"I normally do not back against Stoke at home, but I can not see anything other than a Chelsea win here".

"I like to think our opponents will win tomorrow", said Conte. We must be ready to fight.

  • Lawrence Cooper