Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Blues held by Potters

Didier Drogba

Chelsea's Barclays Premier League title defence foundered with a 1-1 draw at Stoke.

The hosts took the lead when Jonathan Walters took advantage of David Luiz's hesitancy out wide on the halfway line to nip past and race into the penalty area before cutting the ball back on to his right foot and beating Peter Cech at his near post.

But the visitors were level in the 33rd minute when Nicolas Anelka was given too much time and he superbly picked out the diving Didier Drogba to head powerfully past Asmir Begovic

After Walters had put the Potters in front, Ashley Cole and Florent Malouda went close for the visitors before John Terry was almost embarrassed as much as his central defensive partner Luiz had been on the opposite flank when he lost possession to Kenwyne Jones before racing back to get in a crucial touch.

Stoke goalkeeper Begovic was relieved to see Rory Delap clear after the goalkeeper dropped Frank Lampard's brilliant 25-yard volley at the feet of Anelka.

Jermaine Pennant drilled in a shot which Cech saved with his legs early in the second half, Drogba hit the outside of the far post, and then Begovic batted away a long-range Lampard drive.

Stoke rattled the crossbar twice within a few seconds as first Marc Wilson's free-kick crashed back off the woodwork, possibly as a result of Cech's touch.

Robert Huth's header from the resulting corner was only kept out by the goalkeeper's outstretched hand and the frame of the goal.

Matthew Etherington, Jones and Pennant all threatened before Drogba was denied by the crossbar, then Lampard had a claim for a penalty late on turned down after Huth leant into his back.

In added time substitute Ricardo Fuller's header travelled the length of the goal line but dropped the wrong side of the far post.