Jon Walters scored an unfortunate brace of headed own-goals and missed a late penalty as Chelsea won 4-0 at Stoke City to reclaim third place in the Premier League on Saturday.
Frank Lampard also got on the score-sheet to become Chelsea’s second-highest all-time goal-scorer, as Rafael Benitez’s side bounced back from their 2-0 loss to Swansea City in the first leg of their League Cup semi-final.
Chelsea made the breakthrough in first-half injury time at the Britannia Stadium when Walters inadvertently put Cesar Azpilicueta’s cross past his own goalkeeper with a bullet header.
Improbably, Walters then diverted a Juan Mata corner into his own goal to make it 2-0 in the 62nd minute and three minutes later Lampard blasted home his 194th Chelsea goal from the penalty spot after Mata went down in the Stoke box.
Stoke had not been beaten at home all season, but that record was shattered, with Eden Hazard adding a superb fourth in the 73rd minute with a sweetly struck left-foot shot from 25 yards.
Chelsea captain John Terry made his return from a two-month injury lay-off as a late substitute and although he conceded a penalty for a foul on Walters, the Ireland international compounded his misfortune by blazing the spot-kick over.
“We knew it would be physical and intense, but we were ready for that,” Benitez said. “The goal changed the game because they had to go forward and left space, which meant little by little we could control the game.”
Chelsea’s victory took them back into third place after the previous incumbents, Tottenham Hotspur, were held to a 0-0 draw at Queens Park Rangers.
Spurs striker Jermain Defoe came close to opening the scoring in the first half with a 20-yard strike that crashed back off the post, with QPR goalkeeper Julio Cesar reacting brilliantly to save Emmanuel Adebayor’s follow-up.
The hosts’ best chances both fell to Shaun Wright-Phillips, but he could not find the target on either occasion.
Julio Cesar also thwarted Defoe in the second period, while Tottenham full-back Kyle Walker whipped a free-kick inches over the crossbar.
“They defended very well; we wanted to play with a higher tempo, but they frustrate you,” Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas said. “Julio Cesar had a great game. It was a difficult game for us, but we got an away point, so we are satisfied.”
Following the shock 1-0 win at Chelsea in their previous outing, QPR are now five points from safety with 16 games to play.
However, they remain at the bottom of the table after Reading avoided slipping to the foot of the standings by storming back from two goals down to win 3-2 in extraordinary fashion at home to West Bromwich Albion.
A Romelu Lukaku brace had put the visitors in control, but Reading scored three times in the last eight minutes through Jimmy Kebe, Adam Le Fondre and Pavel Pogrebnyak to give their fight to avoid relegation a shot in the arm.
“You have to believe in the players that we’ve got,” Reading manager Brian McDermott said. “I think the crowd here, they don’t know how important to us they really are. They got us over the line here today.”
Aston Villa’s miserable week continued as they lost 1-0 at home to Southampton to slip into the relegation zone.
Beaten 3-1 by fourth-tier Bradford City in the first leg of their League Cup semi-final on Tuesday last week, Paul Lambert’s men went down to a 34th-minute Rickie Lambert penalty and have now gone five league games without a win.
Wigan Athletic climbed out of the relegation places at Villa’s expense after Franco Di Santo canceled out Georgios Karagounis’ long-range opener to give the Latics a 1-1 draw at Fulham.
A glorious 30-yard drive by Sebastian Larsson set Sunderland on their way to a 3-0 success at home to West Ham United that lifted them further away from the bottom three, with Adam Johnson and James McClean also on target.
Everton squandered an opportunity to close to within a point of fourth-place Spurs by drawing 0-0 at home to Swansea, while Newcastle United’s trip to Norwich City also ended goalless.
Chen Jifang hits the gym for at least two hours every day and has the physique to prove it. At nearly 70, she is being held up as a shining example as China orders its vast population to get fit and lose the bulge. The grandmother from Shanghai has become a minor celebrity in in the past few months after her newfound and unlikely love for working out made national headlines. After becoming a gym regular in December 2018, Chen lost 14kg in three months, and now sports the kind of flat stomach and toned muscles that people decades younger aspire to. She
’SO CONSISTENT’: The victory gave the world No. 1 and world No. 2 a 21-1 win-loss record and their fourth title of the season after successes in Brisbane, Dubai and Doha Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Sunday cruised to their fourth women’s doubles title of the season at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome in their first tournament back since the suspension of the WTA Tour due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The top seeds took just 63 minutes to complete a comprehensive 6-2, 6-2 victory over unseeded German-Romanian duo Anna-Lena Friedsam and Raluca Olaru at the Foro Italico. It was the Taiwanese-Czech pairing’s first outing since they won the Qatar Open in February. “After five months, you don’t know what to expect,” Strycova told the WTA Web site.
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Former MLB pitcher Wang Wei-chung has signed the biggest contract with a local team in Taiwan’s professional baseball history, the Wei Chuan Dragons said yesterday. The 28-year-old left-hander signed a five-year US$2.08 million contract with the Dragons, team chairman Hsu Wen-fang told a news conference. It is the biggest contract in the CPBL’s 31-year history, surpassing a three-year, US$1.36 million deal Lin Chih-sheng signed in 2016 with the CTBC Brothers. Although the overall value of Wang’s deal set a new record, his average monthly salary of NT$990,000 (US$33,886) is lower than Lin’s pay of NT$1.2 million per month in 2017