Stoke 0-4 Chelsea: Alvaro Morata hits first hat-trick for the champions
By Jack Wilkinson
Last Updated: 24/09/17 7:17am
Alvaro Morata scored his first Chelsea hat-trick as the champions began life without Diego Costa with a 4-0 win at Stoke.
Morata struck inside 80 seconds at the bet365 Stadium to give Antonio Conte's men the lead before Pedro punished an error from Darren Fletcher to add a fine second on the half hour.
Stoke, missing three of their four first-choice defenders, were put to the sword after the break as Morata doubled his tally on 77 minutes before completing his treble with a close-range finish eight minutes from time.
The victory maintains Chelsea's 100 per cent away record this season and lifts them up to third in the Premier League behind the Manchester clubs. Stoke remain 15th after a fifth game in all competitions without victory.
Stoke were faced with a defensive shortage without injured duo Ryan Shawcross and Kevin Wimmer, while on-loan defender Kurt Zouma was ineligible to play against his parent club. Andreas Christensen, Antonio Rudiger and Tiemoue Bakayoko came in for David Luiz, Gary Cahill and Cesc Fabregas following Chelsea‘s goalless draw with Arsenal. Both managers, meanwhile, made 14 changes between them following their midweek Carabao Cup exploits.
There was barely a minute on the clock when Chelsea took the lead, Morata slotting his fourth goal the season beyond Jack Butland after Cesar Azpilicueta's long pass released him behind a hesitant Stoke defence.
The hosts recovered from the early setback but their bright attacking play offered few chances against a resolute Chelsea defence, who watched on as Pedro pounced on an under-hit back-pass from Potters captain Darren Fletcher and doubled their lead with an unstoppable curling effort into the bottom corner.
Again Stoke rallied, but Maxim Choupo-Moting was unable to turn a corner home from close range, before Mame Biram Diouf's acrobatic overhead kick flashed wide before the interval.
An assured display from the champions threatened to unravel early in the second half when Marcos Alonso committed two fouls in quick succession, but referee Mike Dean issued just one yellow card to the Spaniard before he was substituted.
Stoke: Butland (6), Johnson (5), Martins Indi (6), Pieters (5), Allen (6), Fletcher (5), Shaqiri (6), Sobhi (5), Diouf (5), Choupo-Moting (7), Jese (5).
Subs: Afellay (5), Crouch (4).
Chelsea: Courtois (8), Azpilicueta (8), Rudiger (7), Christensen (7), Moses (7), Kante (7), Bakayoko (8), Alonso (6), Willian (7), Pedro (8), Morata (9).
Subs: Fabregas (7), Hazard (7), Cahill (7).
Man of the Match: Alvaro Morata
His replacement, Gary Cahill, was fortunate not to give away a penalty on 65 minutes when his challenge on Choupo-Moting went unpunished, before Fletcher spurned a glorious chance to halve the deficit on 72 minutes, failing to make contact with a Xherdan Shaqiri cross from close range.
From there on Stoke were ruthlessly punished for not taking their chances as Morata pounced on Glen Johnson's suicidal misplaced pass, raced clear and converted past Butland, before the Spaniard put the finishing touch to a fine move to complete his hat-trick.
- Stoke have lost more Premier League games (14) and conceded more goals (42) against Chelsea than they have against any other side in the competition.
- Indeed, Mark Hughes has lost 16 times and conceded 47 goals as a Premier League manager in 25 meetings against the Blues - his worst record against any top-flight club.
- The Potters have lost seven of their last 11 Premier League games at the Bet365 Stadium against the 'big six' - winning once and drawing the other three.
- Chelsea have won eight of their last nine league away games (L1), their best run over a nine game period on the road since September 2009 when they also won eight and lost one.
Mark Hughes: "We've made catastrophic errors from the first minute. We were very much in the game until we lost another centre-back - Bruno Martins Indi -that's our whole senior contingent of centre-backs missing through injuries now. I cannot be too disappointed given the circumstances, we had a good go at it but they had too much quality in the end to take it away from us."
Antonio Conte: "It's normal to come here and suffer. Arsenal lost here, Manchester United drew but we won, and we deserved to win - but it wasn't easy. We must be pleased and satisfied to win away against Stoke because they are a strong team at home. Now it's important to rest well and prepare for another game against Atletico Madrid."
Man of the match - Alvaro Morata
In the week it was confirmed Costa was set to rejoin Atletico Madrid, Morata looked more comfortable than ever in the role as his successor as Chelsea's main striker. He almost notched another couple of goals in addition to his maiden hat-trick for Chelsea, following his club-record switch from Real Madrid.
Chelsea resume their Champions League campaign away at Atletico Madrid on Wednesday before welcoming Premier League pacesetters Manchester City to Stamford Bridge on Saturday. Stoke, meanwhile, will look to return to winning ways when Southampton travel to the bet365 Stadium.