England: Cole's late goal lifts Chelsea
LONDON (AP) -- Ashley Cole spared the blushes of Chelsea's $200 million attack today as the Premier League leaders left it late to secure a 1-0 victory over Stoke on Saturday.
Despite Fernando Torres being supported by the trio of Eden Hazard, Oscar and Juan Mata for the first time up front, it was left to Cole to score his first goal since 2010 in the 85th minute to clinch the points.
It could easily have been a fourth straight match without a victory for Chelsea as Torres again failed to find the net and Jonathan Walters hit the crossbar for Stoke.
But Chelsea went three points ahead of Everton and West Bromwich Albion at the summit on a day when veterans John Terry and Frank Lampard were left out of the starting lineup.
Despite Chelsea enjoying more of the ball, Torres, Hazard, Oscar and Mata played like strangers.
Torres did nod Mata's corner over the top but, otherwise, the Champions League winners took too many touches, made one pass too many and allowed Stoke to gain in confidence.
Stoke should have made the hosts pay in the 20th minute when an unmarked Walters thumped a header from Glenn Whelan's free kick against the crossbar.
All that Chelsea could offer in response was Torres's air-shot after Mata's dink put him one-on-one with Begovic, and David Luiz smashing a wild shot high into the stand.
But Chelsea looked livelier after the break, with Oscar testing Begovic with a low shot before Mata blazed wide.
As the Brazilian became more of a threat, he had another effort saved by Begovic before striking wide but couldn't reproduce the dazzling two-goal display in Wednesday's 2-2 draw against Juventus.
The winner only came after Lampard came on in the final ten minutes, replacing John Obi Mikel, and Terry's arrival helped to secure the victory.
SOUTHAMPTON, England -- Southampton scored four second-half goals Saturday to come from behind to beat Aston Villa 4-1 for its first points in the Premier League since being promoted.
Trailing 1-0 to Darren Bent's 35th-minute opener, Southampton hit back through Ricki Lambert twice plus goals from Nathaniel Clyne and Jason Puncheon to provisionally rise from last in the 20-team standings to 17th in its first season back in the top flight since 2005.
Lambert struck in the 58th minute and from the penalty spot in the 90th, while Clyne found the net in the 63rd and Puncheon nine minutes later at St. Mary's Stadium.
Villa dropped a spot to 14th place after five rounds, two points above the drop zone, in its first season under manager Paul Lambert.
LONDON -- Kevin Nolan rescued a point for West Ham with a late strike against Sunderland that secured a 1-1 draw in the Premier League at Upton Park on Saturday.
Steven Fletcher opened the scoring for the visitors in the ninth minute when he slotted the ball into the bottom right corner.
It was the Scottish forward's fourth goal in the three league games he has played for Sunderland since moving from relegated Wolverhampton Wanderers in the offseason.
Sunderland, which came into the game without a win in 11 league matches, held on to the lead until the third minute of injury time when Nolan struck. The visitors have now drawn nine of their past 12 league matches.
WEST BROMWICH, England -- West Bromwich Albion provisionally rose to third in the Premier League after beating Reading 1-0 on Saturday through on-loan forward Romelu Lukaku's second-half goal.
Lukaku, who signed for Chelsea last year in a transfer that could rise to 18 million pounds, found the net in the 71st minute to give West Brom its third win after five rounds under new manager Steve Clarke.
Manchester United and either Man City or Arsenal could overtake West Brom by winning on Sunday, but the Baggies' third straight home victory at the Hawthorns shows Clarke has built on the foundations laid by Roy Hodgson before he left to coach England.
Reading dropped one spot to last in the standings in its first season back in the top flight.
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