LONDON Unbeaten Chelsea put their off-field concerns aside to beat Norwich City 4-1 at Stamford Bridge on Saturday and open up a four-point lead at the top of the Premier League.
The European champions made headlines for all the wrong reasons on Saturday after the publication of the findings of an FA hearing that questioned the accounts given by skipper John Terry and defender Ashley Cole in the notorious racism case involving Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand.
Terry, facing a four match ban and a 220,000 pounds fine handed out by the FA for his racial slur against Ferdinand last year, and Cole, whose evidence was doubted in the 63-page written document, both played against Norwich, who took an early lead through Grant Holt after 11 minutes.
But Chelsea playing with true style and panache, replied with four from Fernando Torres, Frank Lampard, Eden Hazard and a superb volley from Branislav Ivanovic.
Lampard's strike was his 129th Chelsea goal in the English Premier League, putting him level with Bobby Tambling as the club's joint-highest top-flight scorer.
Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo said he was pleased to put the events of the last few days behind him.
"I like to talk about football and watch football, but obviously sometimes you have to talk about other stuff," he told Sky Sports.
"But my job is to keep the team focused on what our targets are and we wanted to win this game and be top going into the international break.
"We played some excellent football and at the moment we seem to be scoring a lot of goals."
Chelsea, who have won six and drawn one of their seven games, moved to 19 points while Norwich remain winless and second from bottom with three.
Champions Manchester City climbed to second on 15 points after beating Sunderland 3-0 at the Etihad Stadium where Aleksandar Kolarov, Sergio Aguero and James Milner were on target.
Like Chelsea, Manchester City remain undefeated and ended Sunderland's unbeaten league record in the process.
City, with seven changes from the side that drew 1-1 with Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League on Wednesday, took an early lead with a blistering free-kick from Kolarov after five minutes.
Substitute Aguero doubled the lead after an hour, smashing home a Kolarov cross and James Milner completed the scoring after 89 minutes with a freekick which he curled in with ferocious spin from the left of the penalty area.
Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini told the BBC: "I think in the first half, we missed two or three chances like other games but we had a good performance.
"I am happy because we got a clean sheet, scored three but also because of our performance."
Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill had no complaints about the outcome.
"Man City deserved to win," he said. "When it was 1-0 we had a chance and just after the break we had an attacking threat, but overall they were much better and deserved to win the game.
"They were electric. They are fine players, champions of this country and playing big Champions League games. It was always the possibility if they got the second goal, they would cause havoc and that happened. You just have to take it."
Everton slipped from second to third but salvaged a point in a 2-2 draw after trailing twice at Wigan Athletic.
Leighton Baines scored a penalty against his former club in the 87th minute.
West Bromwich Albion maintained their excellent start with a 3-2 home win over Queens Park Rangers, to climb up to fourth, while QPR remain at the bottom without a win and with only two points from their seven matches.
The other game that could affect the top standings was at Upton Park where West Ham United were kicking off against Arsenal at 1630 GMT.
Manchester United, who started the day in third place and Tottenham Hotspur, who started fifth, do not play until Sunday.
In Saturday's other match, Reading appeared to be heading for their first league win of the season after going 2-0 up at Swansea City, but the home side fought back with two late goals to grab a 2-2 draw and avoid a fourth successive defeat.
(Reporting by Mike Collett; Editing by Toby Davis)
Trending On Reuters
Barcelona striker Lionel Messi is expected to play in Wednesday's King's Cup semi-final against Valencia despite missing training on Monday to have tests on his kidneys, the La Liga club said. Full Article