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Rare Cole goal leaves Chelsea top of the English Premier League

September 22, 2012 -- Updated 1825 GMT (0225 HKT)
Ashley Cole celebrates a rare goal as Chelsea beat Stoke 1-0 to go three points clear of the EPL.
Ashley Cole celebrates a rare goal as Chelsea beat Stoke 1-0 to go three points clear of the EPL.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Ashley Cole scores late winner as Chelsea beat Stoke City 1-0
  • Four wins from five games leave European champions top of EPL
  • Everton go second with 3-0 win at 10-man Swansea
  • Promoted Southampton thrash Aston Villa for first points of season

(CNN) -- England international defender Ashley Cole turned goal scorer as his late winner at Stamford Bridge Saturday gave Chelsea a 1-0 win over Stoke City to stay top of the English Premier League.

Cole was finding the net for the first time in over two years and he left it until the 85th minute, set up by a brilliant pass by Spain's Juan Mata.

His team had been made to struggle by the battling visitors and looked set for a fourth game without a win in all competitions before the full back's late intervention.

It is mentally good to get a lead in the league table
Ashley Cole

"I had a few shots in the first half and took too much time on the ball with them, but this time, the first thing that came into my brain was to dink it and I just did it," Cole said.

"It is mentally good to get a lead in the league table."

Fernando Torres scuffed Chelsea's best chance but Stoke might have gone ahead in the first half when a Jonathan Walters' header hit the crossbar.

The striker was also subjected to a strong challenge late in the game from Chelsea defender David Luiz, which left the Brazilian lucky to escape a straight red card.

Luiz, who signed from Benfica last year, sealed a new five-year contract with the Blues later Saturday, extending his deal to 2017.

"It is a great club and I look forward to winning more trophies here. I want to play for a long time at the top level -- which is what playing for Chelsea means," he told the club's official website.

Four wins from five league games have left Roberto Di Matteo's men three points clear of Everton, who secured an excellent 3-0 win at 10-man Swansea in the early kick off.

Victor Anichebe and Kevin Mirallas put Everton 2-0 up by halftime and home hopes disappeared when substitute Nathan Dyer was sent off after the break.

Belgian star Marouane Fellaini was rewarded for his fine efforts with a late third goal. He had set up Anichebe for the opener with a pass which TV replays indicated had been via his arm, but he was a constant thorn in the side of the home defense.

West Bromwich Albion continued their fine start to the season with a 1-0 home win over promoted Reading, leaving them third in the early EPL standings.

Southampton earned their first points of the season with a 4-1 thrashing of Aston Villa at St Mary's.

Darren Bent put the visitors ahead in the first half but two goals from Rickie Lambert helped the Saints storm back after the break. A Nathan Clyne effort and an own goal from Ciaran Clark added to Villa's misery.

In other matches, Hugo Rodallega scored against his old club as Fulham won 2-1 at Wigan, while Sunderland drew 1-1 at West Ham.

Sunday will see Liverpool face arch-rivals Manchester United, while champions Manchester City entertain Arsenal.

Norwich visit Newcastle and Tottenham Hotspur host Queens Park Rangers.

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