Stoke 0-4 Chelsea: Alvaro Morata hits hat-trick for the champions

Chelsea are close to swapping Alvaro Morata for Gonzalo Higuain
Chelsea are close to swapping Alvaro Morata for Gonzalo Higuain

Alvaro Morata celebrates his first Chelsea hat trick against Stoke City

Alvaro Morata scored his first Chelsea hat-trick as the champions began life without Diego Costa with a 4-0 win at Stoke.

Morata struck inside 80 seconds at the bet365 Stadium to give Antonio Conte’s men the lead before Pedro punished an error from Darren Fletcher to add a fine second on the half hour.

Stoke, missing three of their four first-choice defenders, were put to the sword after the break as Morata doubled his tally on 77 minutes before completing his treble with a close-range finish eight minutes from time.

The victory maintains Chelsea’s 100 per cent away record this season and lifts them up to third in the Premier League behind the Manchester clubs. Stoke remain 15th after a fifth game in all competitions without victory.

There was barely a minute on the clock when Chelsea took the lead, Morata slotting his fourth goal the season beyond Jack Butland after Cesar Azpilicueta’s long pass released him behind a hesitant Stoke defence.

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The hosts recovered from the early setback but their bright attacking play offered few chances against a resolute Chelsea defence, who watched on as Pedro pounced on an under-hit back-pass from Potters captain Darren Fletcher and doubled their lead with an unstoppable curling effort into the bottom corner.

Morata congratulates Pedro after he doubles Chelsea's tally at Stoke
Morata congratulates Pedro after he doubles Chelsea’s tally at Stoke

Again Stoke rallied, but Maxim Choupo-Moting was unable to turn a corner home from close range, before Mame Biram Diouf’s acrobatic overhead kick flashed wide before the interval.

An assured display from the champions threatened to unravel early in the second half when Marcos Alonso committed two fouls in quick succession, but referee Mike Dean issued just one yellow card to the Spaniard before he was substituted.

His replacement, Gary Cahill, was fortunate not to give away a penalty on 65 minutes when his challenge on Choupo-Moting went unpunished, before Fletcher spurned a glorious chance to halve the deficit on 72 minutes, failing to make contact with a Xherdan Shaqiri cross from close range.

From there on Stoke were ruthlessly punished for not taking their chances as Morata pounced on Glenn Johnson’s suicidal misplaced pass, raced clear and converted past Butland, before the Spaniard put the finishing touch to a fine move to complete his hat-trick.