Late King Cole Lifts Chelsea
LONDON (AP):Ashley Cole produced a late Chelsea winner against Stoke by scoring his first goal in two years yesterday, and Southampton collected their first points of the season with a victory at Aston Villa.
With Chelsea facing a second consecutive scoreless stalemate, Cole lifted the ball over Asmir Begovic in the 85th minute to secure a 1-0 victory at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea have a three-point lead at the top of the league over Everton, who won 3-0 at Swansea, and West Bromwich Albion, who beat Reading 1-0.
Southampton climbed off the bottom by coming from behind to beat Aston Villa 4-1, while Fulham won 2-1 at Wigan, and West Ham drew 1-1 with Sunderland.
The glamorous fixtures of the weekend are on today when Manchester United visit Liverpool and champions Manchester City host Arsenal.
But it will be Chelsea ending the weekend at the summit after being rescued by their left back.
Cole hadn't scored since May 2010 until he connected with Juan Mata's back-heel and beat Begovic from close range after 85 minutes of dogged Stoke defending.
"You have a game plan and you need to be patient and you need to find solutions to break them down ... it is very difficult," Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo said. "(Cole is) an unexpected goal scorer but we seem to have our full backs in very advanced positions these days."
Southampton had endured four straight losses since gaining promotion back to the Premier League and the south-coast side conceded their 15th goal of the season when Darren Bent put Villa ahead in the 36th.
But Southampton turned on the style in the second half after Rickie Lambert lashed in a leveller in the 58th.
Southampton went in front five minutes later when defender Nathaniel Clyne slotted the ball past goalkeeper Brad Guzan from close range, and Jason Puncheon extended the lead with a strike from the edge of the six-yard box that deflected off Ciaran Clark before landing in the net.
After setting up Puncheon's goal, Lambert was on the scoresheet again with a 90th-minute penalty after Guzan brought down Emmanuel Mayuka.
"We've been desperate to get some points on the board," Lambert said. "Today is everything we believed we could do and it came to fruition. At half time (manager) Nigel Adkins told us certain things were unacceptable ... but we still believed we could win the game and we managed to do it."
That was rarely in doubt for Everton at Swansea, with Victor Anichebe and Kevin Mirallas scoring before the break and Marouane Fellaini heading in a late third after the hosts had Nathan Dyer sent off early in the second half.
West Brom are only behind second-place Everton on goal difference after Romelu Lukaku netted a second-half winner that sent Reading to the bottom of the standings.
"The players have been successful in the past and they will be again," Reading manager Brian McDermott said. "I know they are better than they are showing at the moment."
Premier League: Swansea 0 Everton 3; Chelsea 1 Stoke 0; Southampton 4 Aston Villa 1; West Bromwich Albion 1 Reading 0; West Ham 1 Sunderland 1; Wigan 1 Fulham 2.
League Championship: Crystal Palace 3 Cardiff 2; Derby 1 Burnley 2; Ipswich 1 Charlton 2; Leeds 2 Nottingham Forest 1; Millwall 1 Brighton 2; Peterborough 0 Wolverhampton Wanderers 2; Sheffield Wednesday 1 Bolton 2; Watford 2 Bristol City 2; Birmingham 0 Barnsley 5.
League One: Brentford 1 Oldham 0; Bury 1 MK Dons 4; Coventry 1 Carlisle 2; Crawley 2 Tranmere 5; Crewe 1 Leyton Orient 1; Doncaster 1 Stevenage 1; Hartlepool 2 Shrewsbury 2; Notts County 3 Portsmouth 0; Scunthorpe 1 Colchester 0; Swindon 4 Bournemouth 0; Walsall 3 Preston 1; Yeovil 0 Sheffield United 1.
League Two: Accrington 1 Aldershot 0; Barnet 0 Rotherham 0; Bristol Rovers 0 Fleetwood 0; Morecambe 2 Plymouth 3; Northampton 0 Chesterfield 0; Oxford 0 Bradford 2; Port Vale 0 Gillingham 2; Rochdale 2 Dagenham & Redbridge 2; Southend 2 Exeter 1; Torquay 1 Burton 1; Wycombe 0 AFC Wimbledon 1; York 0 Cheltenham 0.