Chelsea produced an excellent display to beat Stoke 4-0 at the Britannia Stadium
Chelsea moved back into third as they produced a commanding display to beat Stoke City 4-0 at the Britannia Stadium.
By Graeme Bailey - Tweet me: @graemebailey
Last Updated: 13/01/13 10:36am
Rafa Benitez saw his side bounce back from their midweek defeat to Swansea with a convincing performance as they could, and should, have won by an even bigger margin in the Potteries.
But it was a real day to forget for Stoke's Jon Walters as he scored two own-goals before firing over a late penalty as the home side saw their unbeaten home record disappear.
The Potters had not lost at the Britannia Stadium in the Premier League since February and have proved formidable opponents for the league's big guns, but this was their biggest home loss since returning to the top flight in 2008.
After a relatively uninspiring opening half, Chelsea went ahead on the stroke of half-time when Walters put a diving header into his own net as he looked to clear Cesar Azpilicueta's cross with Juan Mata pressuring him.
On the hour the officials made a huge call as referee Andre Marriner pointed to the spot when Azpilicueta looked like he caught Matthew Etherington but, much to Chelsea's relief, assistant Sian Massey had flagged for offside and replays showed she was right.
Then, just minutes later, Chelsea doubled their lead and amazingly it was another own goal from Walters as he flicked in a Mata corner with Asmir Begovic helpless.
Suddenly the game was beyond Stoke when Chelsea won a penalty on 65 minutes as Mata went down under pressure from Robert Huth and Ryan Shawcross, and Frank Lampard stepped up to hammer home.
Lampard could, and should, have added to that goal but he was denied from point-blank range by Begovic, who in truth kept the score respectable.
The game was put to bed 18 minutes from time and it was the pick of the goals as Eden Hazard fired into the top corner from 30 yards, a wonderful finish from the little Belgian.
Another huge cheer came from the away side as Chelsea captain John Terry made his long-awaited return from injury and the former England star did make a contribution as he gave away a late penalty.
Walters was quick to take the ball, but the Irishman's day went from bad to worse as he lashed his spot-kick high and it clipped the top of the bar.
The three points take Chelsea into third, above Tottenham who were held to a goalless draw at QPR earlier in the day.