Florent Malouda struck deep in stoppage time as Chelsea claimed a last-gasp victory over Stoke and maintained their 100% start to the season.

The hosts took a surprise lead when Abdoulaye Faye capitalised on Petr Cech’s indecision by heading Glenn Whelan’s cross into an empty net.

Chelsea replied in first-half injury time, Didier Drogba spinning Faye and smashing home Frank Lampard’s pass.

They bombarded Stoke late on and Malouda drove in a 94th minute winner.

It was a dramatic end to a pulsating encounter and the result, which Chelsea deserved, keeps the Blues top of the league with five wins from as many games.

Given the number of chances they created in the second half, boss Carlo Ancelotti will wonder how his side failed to confirm the three points earlier.

But, considering the recent bad press the club have received in relation to their recruitment policy, the win provides them with a timely boost.

Stoke manager Tony Pulis might though take consolation from the way his side defended throughout and, although they drop out of the top six, their performance suggested a promising season ahead.

Attempting to guide his club to a first league win against Chelsea since 1975, Pulis opted to dispense with his trusted 4-4-2 formation in favour of a 5-3-2, which was designed to combat marauding full-backs Jose Bosingwa and Ashley Cole.

And, although Chelsea dominated possession in the opening stages, Stoke rarely looked in danger of conceding.

Perhaps considering Tuesday’s Champions League opener against Porto, Ancelotti made four changes to the team that beat Burnley last time out and Chelsea struggled to establish any sort of rhythm early on.

They might have gone behind inside 10 minutes when Branislav Ivanovic inexplicably diverted a long ball into the path of James Beattie.

Beattie, returning from three weeks out with a knee injury, raced through on goal but dragged his shot horribly wide and, to make matters worse, fell awkwardly in the process and had to be substituted.

Chelsea had been warned and, despite enjoying a period of sustained pressure, they were soon punished.

Whelan collected possession on the right and sent in a hopeful left-footed cross which Cech came for but then withdrew, allowing Faye to head home.

Chelsea responded positively to the set-back and continued to take the game to a Stoke side who were defending ominously deep.

Cole shot straight at Thomas Sorensen from an acute angle and Jon Mikel Obi had a thumping drive bravely blocked by former Blues centre-half Robert Huth.

Injuries to Beattie, Cole and Sorensen saw eight minutes of stoppage time added at the end of the first half, and Chelsea used it as an opportunity to strike.

Lampard was able to get away from Whelan and slide a delicious ball through to Drogba, who rolled Faye and unleashed a thunderous first-time left-footed drive across substitute goalkeeper Steve Simonsen and into the top corner.

Chelsea started the second half as they finished the first and, were it not for Stoke’s resilience, the Blues might have seen their dominance reflected on the scoresheet.

Salomon Kalou came within inches of connecting with a Malouda centre and Drogba blasted over the bar after Faye hesitated with his clearance.

A temporary lull ensued but Stoke almost regained the lead when Huth rose above Michael Ballack and headed just over from Whelan’s corner.

But it was all Chelsea from that moment on, Lampard and Michael Essien squandered a couple of chances each before Drogba had a goal-bound effort blocked by Faye.

The visitors were flooding forward but found themselves repelled time and again until Simonsen failed to keep out a fizzing Malouda effort at the death.

Source: BBC