Two own goals from Stoke City forward Jonathan Walters set Chelsea on their way to a 4-0 Premier League victory on Saturday that gave under-fire interim manager Rafael Benitez some respite.
Walters had a nightmare afternoon at the Britannia stadium, putting through his own net with a diving header on the stroke of halftime, then beating his own keeper Asmir Begovic with a header from a corner just after the hour. He also missed a late penalty.
Stoke have not beaten Chelsea in the league since 1975 and Frank Lampard’s penalty and a fine Eden Hazard goal lifted the Londoners back up to third, ahead of Tottenham Hotspur who drew 0-0 at Queens Park Rangers in the lunchtime kickoff.
Rangers prop up the standings after Reading staged a remarkable comeback to beat West Bromwich Albion 3-2, scoring three times in the last eight minutes after trailing to Romelu Lukaku’s double.
Aston Villa dropped into the bottom three following Rickie Lambert’s contentious first-half penalty that secured fellow strugglers Southampton a 1-0 victory at Villa Park.
Everton and Swansea battled out a goalless draw at Goodison Park, as did Norwich and Newcastle at Carrow Road while Sunderland thumped West Ham United 3-0 at home. Fulham drew 1-1 at home to Wigan.
Leaders Manchester United host fierce rivals Liverpool on Sunday (1:30 p.m.) before second-placed Manchester City, seven points behind Alex Ferguson’s side, complete the weekend programme at Arsenal (4:00 p.m.).
Photograph: Darren Staples/Reuters