Chelsea cruised to a 4-0 victory against Stoke City at the bet365 Stadium yesterday thanks to an Alvaro Morata hat-trick.
Following last week’s dismal goalless draw with Arsenal in the Premier League, Antonio Conte will be pleased not only with the win – but the decisiveness of it. The Blues found the back of the net with their only two attempts in the first half, with Morata breaking the deadlock within 90 seconds before Spanish international compatriot Pedro clinically doubled the lead before the break.
Despite the scoreline, it was not all one-way traffic. The visitors’ inexperienced struggled to contain Stoke at times, despite being two goals to the good. Darren Fletcher, in particular, could have snatched one back with a little more composure.
Morata hat-trick undoes makeshift Stoke defence
However, with Kurt Zouma unable to face his parent club, the home side were struggling defensively for the start and their makeshift back-line could not cope for 90 minutes. Morata dazzled with class to double his tally, ghosting past the Stoke defence before finding a deft finish from a tight angle. The £60 million striker was not done yet, as he added a third to his tally and his sixth of the season so far.
With David Luiz suspended and Gary Cahill on the bench, Chelsea rode their luck at times, and Caesar Azpilicueta’s cool head was vital for much of the game. Marcus Alonso had Conte sweating as he almost contributed to even more disciplinary problems after a rash tackle that could have seen him receive a second yellow if not for a forgiving referee.
The game was fraught with defensive errors, and the introduction of Peter Crouch left Chelsea’s back line in confusion, requiring Thibault Courtois to earn his clean sheet. Diouf blazed one over the crossbar from Crouch before a Choupo-Moting penalty appeal was waved away.
It seemed nothing would go Stoke’s way and Morata finished any thoughts of a comeback with 13 minutes remaining. It was a goal manufactured in Spain as Cesc Fabregas lofted a ball through for Azpilicueta to calmly chest past the goalkeeper, providing Morata with a tap-in.
Blues in good position for City clash
Chelsea had further chances to pile on the misery, as Morata fizzed one wide and failed to convert a simple chance from a couple of yards out. It was a much-needed and credentials-boosting win for the champions, especially with Manchester City on cruise control thanks to another five-goal win over Crystal Palace. The two teams match up next weekend in the first heavyweight bout of the season.
The Blues take on Atletico Madrid in midweek, which will have added spice following Diego Costa’s transfer. A red-hot Morata will be ready to prove his worth once again.