Gary Cahill reveals why he went 'beserk' after scoring Chelsea's late winner

Ben Findon
The Telegraph
Cahill scored Chelsea's winner with three minutes to go - Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
Cahill scored Chelsea's winner with three minutes to go - Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

For Gary Cahill it was a moment of redemption. For the combustible Diego Costa it was an afternoon on which he somehow averted a meltdown. For their team-mates it was a crucial victory carved out without the genius of Eden Hazard. For Chelsea, this was a many-faceted triumph which surely removes any doubts over the destination of the title.

Premier League officials can begin tying blue ribbons to the trophy now because it is conclusively clear after a challenging afternoon in the hostile Potteries that, even with 10 games remaining, Chelsea will not be letting their advantage at the top of the table slip.

Many teams might have been satisfied with a point from Stoke, unbeaten at home in the league since Bournemouth departed with three points on Nov 19.

Not, however,  Chelsea, and certainly not Cahill, who, having conceded the penalty with which Jon Walters wiped out Wiilian's early goal, was in the right place to drive in Chelsea's winner three minutes from the end.

The Chelsea captain led the extravagant celebrations, plunging into the visiting supporters while manager Antonio Conte had his own exuberant party in front of - and on top of - the Chelsea dug-out.

<span>Antonio Conte had his own exuberant party on the dug-out</span>
Antonio Conte had his own exuberant party on the dug-out

Cahill said: "You've seen my celebration, it's like a blur. I went absolutely beserk. Playing my position, to have a penalty like that go against you, you can almost see the headlines: Cahill should have done this, Cahill's dropped this and done whatever. The moment you pull up an error, it's highlighted tenfold.

"I was just proud of my character because you keep going. It dropped to me in the box and the rest is history. That could be a massive, massive result for us. Not just myself but the team. We kept going and got our result in the end."

And what about Costa, who was engaged in running battles from the first minute with an uncompromising Stoke rearguard clearly out to light the blue touch paper?

<span>Costa was given a rough ride by Stoke's back line</span>
Costa was given a rough ride by Stoke's back line

He was far from being the completely innocent party, collecting a booking for his reaction to referee Anthony Taylor, who correctly waved on play after one of his more exaggerated tumbles.

Yet after another card appeared to be only a matter of time in arriving, the Chelsea striker fought back the red mists to play a full part in Chelsea's defiant second-half display. When Taylor reached for a red card late on, it was to dismiss Stoke defender Phil Bardsley, who had earlier been cautioned for a high tackle on Costa.

"I remember speaking to him in the first half to tell him just to keep his cool," Cahill said. "He was on the edge at times but that's the way he plays. They're a physical team and it was important we didn't get dragged into that kind of battle. Diego managed himself really well. Maybe he got a little more protection from the ref in the second half."

<span>Diego Costa and Bruno Martins Indi clash</span>
Diego Costa and Bruno Martins Indi clash

Costa's battles came five days after Hazard had been singled out by Manchester United players in a FA Cup quarter-final at Stamford Bridge. The brilliant Belgian's absence on Saturday was due to a calf injury sustained in training and his sparkling creativity was certainly missed but Chelsea displayed other qualities to ensure the right result.

Conte said: "It is incredible to think what we are doing. The players are working hard. They are showing me in every game a great commitment and a great will to fight. My players are understanding my idea of football. We are building something very important."

Mark Hughes, the Stoke manager, said: "They are a good side with good players working hard and making things happen. That's why they are top. How many games to go? They won't get beaten now."

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