STOKE-ON-TRENT: Chelsea´s bid for a fourth consecutive Premier League win fell dramatically short as they lost 3-2 in a thrilling game against Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday.
Substitute Oussama Assaidi claimed the winning goal in the last minute after Stoke had recovered from a goal down to lead 2-1, only for Andre Schurrle to draw Jose Mourinho´s men level with his second goal of the game.
Assaidi, who had been on the pitch for only five minutes, turned Branislav Ivanovic on the edge of the area before dispatching an unstoppable shot beyond visiting goalkeeper Petr Cech.
Stoke had never beaten Chelsea at the Britannia Stadium in 10 previous Premier League meetings, and their hopes of changing that statistic were dented as early as the ninth minute.
John Mikel Obi, starting the game in place of Frank Lampard following the 4-3 mid-week victory at Sunderland, threaded a pass through for Schurrle and the German international did the rest.
Stoke captain Ryan Shawcross and fellow defender Marc Wilson were left in his wake, before Schurrle shot powerfully across Asmir Begovic and inside the goalkeeper´s left-hand post.
The aftermath of the goal saw Stoke midfielder Charlie Adam hobble off the pitch and although he continued until the 20th minute, the Scot — who had been playing just behind lone striker Peter Crouch — eventually had to come off, with Stephen Ireland replacing him.
Stoke did their best to respond, but Chelsea´s powerful midfield, with Eden Hazard once more catching the eye, held sway as the visitors sought to extend their lead.
Juan Mata might have done better when a half-cleared free-kick fell to him on the edge of the penalty area, but he shot straight into the arms of Begovic, while Hazard´s measured low cross into the six-yard box passed a foot in front of the onrushing Fernando Torres.
When Marko Arnautovic did launch a centre into the Chelsea area, Jonathan Walters won the ball at the far post, but his header failed to trouble Cech.
However, Stoke´s persistence paid off in the 42nd minute, albeit with the aid of an unexpected lapse from Cech.
The Czech goalkeeper hesitated and stopped when Arnautovic flighted in a corner from the left and Crouch was able to collect and turn before squeezing a shot between two defenders.
Crouch´s celebration showed his delight at only his second league goal of the season on his ninth start.
There was even more to shout about in the home ranks five minutes into the second half as Stoke took the lead through Ireland.
Walters found room on the right flank following a long kick by Begovic and his pass inside to Ireland saw the former Aston Villa man beat Cech with a fine effort that went in off the post.
However, the celebrations had barely subsided when Chelsea levelled three minutes later.
Schurrle was again Stoke´s scourge, providing a fine finish by volleying home from the edge of the area after a Mata free kick was partially cleared.
The German international was inches away from a sensational hat-trick after 57 minutes, but his turn and shot saw the ball clip the crossbar and go over.
Ireland spurned a chance to give Stoke the lead again when he fired over, but Assaidi stepped up to decide the game and leave jubilant Stoke fans singing “You´re not special any more!” to the self-appointed ´Special One´, Mourinho. (AFP)