Cole gifts Chelsea late winner
LONDON, England (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 come today when Manchester United visit Liverpool and champions Manchester City hosts 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.
Southampton had endured four straight losses since gaining promotion back to the Premier League and the south-coast side conceded its 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.
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-placed Everton on goal difference after Romelu Lukaku netted a second-half winner that sent Reading to the bottom of the standings.
At Wigan, Hugo Rodallega headed in his first goal for Fulham against his former club and Damien Duff struck into the top left corner of the net for the London side. Arouna Kone pulled one back for the hosts in injury time.
At West Ham, Steven Fletcher scored his fourth goal in three matches for Sunderland after connecting with Sebastian Larsson's cross in the 9th, but Kevin Nolan volleyed in an equaliser in stoppage time.