Sports

Mark Hughes praises Stoke despite defeat to Chelsea

Mark Hughes praises Stoke despite defeat to Chelseaā€¯

The Blues were on top throughout the second half but struggled to break through, with Marcos Alonso coming closest when he sent a free-kick crashing onto the bar, but Cahill made amends for giving away the penalty to secure three points late on.

Erik Pieters conceded a needless corner with a poor back-pass to Grant and the Dutchman's clearance from Luiz's header came to Cahill to fire home.

"I'm very pleased for this, because my players showed me the will to win but also my players were prepared to fight to win this game, because it wasn't easy this game".

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte could extend Chelsea's gap at the top to 13 points as second-place Spurs don't play until Sunday.

But Cahill made amends for his earlier error by firing Chelsea in front three minutes from time after Stoke failed to properly clear a corner from Willian. No reunion between Costa and Ryan Shawcross was likely to end in cuddles and compliments, but many of Chelsea's first-half struggles were directly related to their striker spending more of his time wrestling opposition defenders than providing an effective focal point.

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On the plus side for Conte, Chelsea were already a goal to the good by then!

Chelsea were without the injured Eden Hazard, while fellow star player Diego Costa was embroiled in a running battle with Stoke's Bruno Martins Indi from the early stages of the contest.

Gary Cahill celebrates scoring the victor for Chelsea at Stoke.

"For me it is good to win, to win the Premier League is a dream for me".

Conte changed his much-vaunted 3-4-3 formation to a 4-2-3-1 to supply more bodies forward and he was duly rewarded as Cahill scored with just three minutes left.

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Costa struck a post after that yet he was a footnote in this contest, even when the red card came out, with Bardsley the recipient for a second cautionable offence as he fouled Cesc Fabregas.

In the other games on Saturday, Everton hammered Hull 4-0, Crystal Palace edged out Watford, Chelsea overcame Stoke, and Leicester's run under their new manager continued at West Ham.

No team has ever failed to win the Premier League having been 13 points clear.

Only once in Premier League history have Stoke beaten the side who are top of the table.

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