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DEADLY AL­VARO FIRES HAT-TRICK IN BLUES ROMP TO FILL THE BOOTS OF DE­PARTED £67M HIT­MAN DIEGO COSTA

Daily Star Sunday - - RESULT! - By Paul Hether­ing­ton

But­land 6; John­son 5, Martins Indi 6 (Afel­lay (76th), Pi­eters 5; Diouf 6, Fletcher 5, Allen 7, Sobhi 5; Shaqiri 7, Jese 5 (Crouch (62nd) 6) Choupo-Mot­ing 5

CHELSEA might have lost the mas­ter of the dark arts in Diego Costa – but in Al­varo Mo­rata there is plenty of light at the end of the tun­nel.

Stoke boss Mark Hughes made it clear he thinks his for­mer club are poorer for last Fri­day’s £67mil­lion sale of Costa to Atletico Madrid.

It was Sparky who re­ferred to those “dark arts” when dis­cussing Costa’s even­tual re­turn to Atletico af­ter fall­ing out with Chelsea boss An­to­nio Conte last sea­son.

But Costa’s re­place­ment Mo­rata has hit the ground run­ning with the Premier League cham­pi­ons.

In fact, the for­mer Real Madrid and Ju­ven­tus striker has never been in such good form at the start of a sea­son. It took the £60m sign­ing from Real only 83 sec­onds to give Chelsea the lead yes­ter­day.

With Gary Cahill on the bench at the start ahead of this week’s Cham­pi­ons League game against Atletico, Ce­sar Azpilicueta took the cap­tain’s arm­band.

And it was his early long ball which caught out a de­pleted Stoke back­line, with Ryan Shawcross, Kurt Zouma, Kevin Wim­mer and Ge­off Cameron un­avail­able.

Mo­rata raced on to Azpilicueta’s pass and calmly steered a right-foot fin­ish wide of Stoke keeper Jack But­land and into the far cor­ner of the net.

It was Mo­rata’s fourth goal of the sea­son – the pre­vi­ous three all be­ing with his head.

And he went on to score his first hat-trick in Eng­land. In the 78th minute he raced al­most half the length of the pitch be­fore pro­duc­ing a neat fin­ish.

And four min­utes later Mo­rata turned the ball over the line af­ter Azpilicueta had chested Cesc Fabre­gas’s pass into his path.

Stoke knew that their un­beaten home record this sea­son, which in­cluded a win against Ar­se­nal and draw

Cour­tois 6; Azpilicueta 8, Chris­tensen 7, Rudi­ger 8; Moses 6, Kante 7, Bakayoko 6, Alonso 6 (Cahill (58th) 6); Wil­lian 6 (Hazard (72nd) 6), Mo­rata 9, Pe­dro 7 (Fabre­gas (68th) 6) with Manch­ester United, was go­ing to be un­der se­ri­ous threat af­ter that first Mo­rata goal.

And they had only them­selves to blame Chelsea in­creased their lead on the half-hour.

Skip­per Dar­ren Fletcher ca­su­ally chested the ball back to­wards his own goal – but only into the path of the alert Pe­dro who grate­fully ham­mered a right-foot drive in to the cor­ner of the net, beat­ing the div­ing But­land.

Stoke needed an in­spi­ra­tional mo­ment to get back in to the match and it al­most ar­rived two min­utes be­fore half-time.

But Mame Bi­ram Diouf ’s fine over­head ef­fort from Joe Allen’s ex­cel­lent cross was off tar­get.

Stoke did not have a shot on tar­get un­til the hour mark, when the lively Xher­dan Shaqiri pro­duced a left-foot ef­fort which Thibaut Cour­tois com­fort­ably held.

But the sec­ond half was more un­com­fort­able for the vis­i­tors.

Peter Crouch caused prob­lems when he came on as sub­sti­tute for the anony­mous Jese.

The for­mer Eng­land tar­get man set up a chance when he won the ball in the air but Diouf – un­der when Al­varo Mo­rata M Dean Southamp­ton (H), Sept 30 Atletico Madrid (A), Sept 27 pres­sure from An­to­nio Rudi­ger – could not keep his shot down. And with Mar­cos Alonso walk­ing a dis­ci­plinary tightrope af­ter be­ing yel­low-carded, Conte sen­si­bly re­placed him with Cahill.

Fletcher’s un­char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally poor af­ter­noon also saw him fail to con­vert a chance with his head.

The for­mer Manch­ester United mid­fielder mis­cued and the ball ended up bounc­ing off his foot and trick­ling wide.

That was six min­utes be­fore the highly im­pres­sive Mo­rata wrapped it up for Chelsea with his sec­ond and third goals.

And three min­utes from time Glen John­son cleared off the line to pre­vent a fourth goal for the Spain striker.

Stoke boss Hughes said: “We con­trib­uted to our own down­fall. That’s the story of the game from our point of view.

“If you make cat­a­strophic de­fen­sive mis­takes against a side like Chelsea, then they are go­ing to pun­ish you.

“But there were ex­ten­u­at­ing cir­cum­stances given the short­age of per­son­nel we had at the back and to make mat­ters worse, we then lose Bruno Martins Indi with a groin in­jury.

“But in my view, Alonso should have been sent off and it would have been in­ter­est­ing to see what would have hap­pened if we had been play­ing against 10 men.

“Clearly, their man­ager thought so, too, be­cause he took off Alonso.”

STOKE: CHELSEA: STAR MAN:

REF:

Stoke’s next game: Chelsea’s next game: ■

BLUES BROTH­ERS: Mo­rata cel­e­brates with Chelsea’s other goalscorer Pe­dro

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