Saturday, September 22, 2012


Ashley Cole spared the blushes of Chelsea's £130million attack as the European champions spluttered to victory against Stoke to go three points clear at the top of the Barclays Premier League.

Roberto Di Matteo saw his Chelsea side throw away a two-goal advantage during the midweek clash with Juventus, but they found a late winner to avoid another hiccup against Stoke as the Blues triumphed 1-0. John Terry was left on the bench as Di Matteo started Eden Hazard, Oscar and Juan Mata in his attack, but it was the unlikely figure of Ashley Cole who proved the 85th-minute hero.

It could easily have been a fourth straight match without a victory for Chelsea as Torres flopped once again and Jonathan Walters hit the crossbar for Stoke, who arguably had the better of the chances.

That would have cranked up the pressure on Blues boss Roberto Di Matteo, who shrugged off Thursday's visit of Abramovich to the club's training ground the morning after the club's opening Champions League game against Juventus. 

Earlier, Everton had temporarily moved joint-top of the table in Saturday's early kick-off at Swansea, taking a 3-0 victory away from The Liberty Stadium on a day when little went right for the home side, who had Nathan Dyer sent off. 

In a meeting of two teams who have both impressed in the early stages of the 2012-13 campaign, it was Everton who looked a cut above their hosts, netting through Victor Anichebe, Kevin Mirallas and Marouane Fellaini. 

Nigeria International, Anichebe enhanced his reputation with his second goal in as many games to fill the void left by injured striker Nikica Jelavic. 

Rickie Lambert-inspired Southampton produced a superb comeback to collect their first victory back in the top flight against Aston Villa 4 - 1 at Saint Marys.

Record signing Gaston Ramirez was given his first start by Saints, and it was his pass that created the winner for Nathaniel Clyne after Rickie Lambert had cancelled out Darren Bent's opener.

Villa's 36th-minute breakthrough, from Bent, was somewhat fortunate in its arrival as Stephen Ireland's mishit shot was diverted home by the predatory England forward.

Saints had to wait until just before the hour for an equaliser, which came when Lambert controlled and rifled home from the edge of the box to notch his third league goal of the campaign.

Clyne then struck the winner five minutes later after latching onto Ramirez's first-time pass, before Ciaran Clark was credited with an own goal as Southampton clinched the three points. Lambert's injury-time penalty capped off a memorable afternoon.

West Brom coach Steve Clarke left out leading scorer Shane Long against his former club and saw his replacement Romelu Lukaku net a second-half winner against Reading at the Hawthorns.

But it needed the second half introduction of three-goal Long to tee up the winner for on-loan Chelsea striker Lukaku in his first Barclays Premier League start for the Baggies. 

West Ham continued life without Andy Carroll with a 1-1 draw against Sunderland at Upton Park.

The visitors needed less than 10 minutes to open the scoring through Steven Fletcher, but were denied their first win by a last-gasp Kevin Nolan leveller.

Martin Jol's Fulham side continued their strong start to the season, moving up to fourth place with a good win at Wigan

Wigan were haunted by former striker Hugo Rodallega as Fulham won 2-1 as Dimitar Berbatov was inspired for the Cottagers and he created the first with a lovely dink that allowed Rodallega to head past Ali Al-Habsi.
Jordi Gomez rightly had a second-half strike chalked out for offside as Wigan attempted to level, but Mauro Boselli's unfortunate deflection allowed Damien Duff to kill off the comeback.

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