Football Football

Chelsea thrive despite Adam wonder goal


OSCAR-STOKELONDON, April 5- Charlie Adam joined the select band of footballers who have scored from inside their own half but finished a loser as Stoke City lost 2-1 at Chelsea on Saturday.

Loic Remy’s 62nd-minute effort gave Chelsea victory after Adam had quickly cancelled out Eden Hazard’s 39th-minute penalty as Jose Mourinho’s side extended their lead in the Premier League to seven points.

It was far from a convincing victory, but with Manchester City not due to face Crystal Palace until Monday, it ensured Chelsea will remain at least six points clear with a game in hand after the latest round of matches.

Their rivals have just seven games to close the gap and while Mourinho’s side may be offering only brief flashes of their best form, it would be a major shock if they failed to end the season as champions.

This success, though, came at the cost of a worrying injury to Diego Costa, who limped out of the game just 10 minutes after appearing as a half-time substitute.

The forward withdrew from the Spain squad for the recent international break because of a hamstring problem and Mourinho suggested he would now be sidelined for around two weeks.

Mourinho had felt moved to introduce the Brazil-born striker for the ineffective Oscar after his side had laboured through the first half and looked in danger of once again dropping points at home.

Chelsea’s last home league game had ended in a 1-1 draw with Southampton, which followed the 2-2 stalemate with Paris Saint-Germain that resulted in Mourinho’s side going out of the Champions League on the away goals rule.

And when Adam beat Thibaut Courtois with a memorable long-range effort from over 10 yards inside his own half a minute before the interval, there were growing home fears of another slip-up.

In the end, however, a bad mistake by Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic led to Remy’s decisive goal and the home team rarely looked troubled from that point on.

– Wollscheid fells Fabregas –

Prior to that, Begovic had produced a string of fine saves to prevent Chelsea taking control, starting with a second-minute stop that repelled Remy’s sliced shot.

A defensive mix-up in the Chelsea box allowed Steven Nzonzi to target Courtois’s goal, but Chelsea — and in particular, Hazard — offered the greater threat, albeit without ever truly hitting their stride.

A neatly worked passing move deserved better than a tame, misdirected finish from Oscar, but the breakthrough finally came when Cesc Fabregas was sent free inside the Stoke area by a Willian pass.

The Spain international –- who had earlier required treatment after appearing to be caught by Adam’s elbow –- turned sharply, drawing a foul from Stoke centre-back Philipp Wollscheid.

There was little doubt about the decision and Hazard beat Begovic comfortably from the spot, sending the Bosnian the wrong way.

Stoke needed a quick response and it came in spectacular fashion when Jonathan Walters headed Geoff Cameron’s defensive clearance into the path of Adam.

The Scotland midfielder was standing outside the centre circle in his own half, but spotting Courtois outside his penalty area, he dispatched a floating shot that the goalkeeper was unable to keep out as he dashed back towards his goal in desperation.

The equaliser gave Stoke a lift at just the right time, but Chelsea emerged with greater intent and overcame the loss of Costa when Begovic’s attempt to roll the ball out to one of his defenders was intercepted by Willian.

The Brazilian played the ball to Hazard, who squared for Remy, and the striker rolled the ball into an empty net to ensure Chelsea’s title bid remained firmly on course.