Blues cruise past Toffees
Sturridge, Terry and Ramires on target in 3-1 success
Last Updated: 16/10/11 9:25am
Ashley Cole and Daniel Sturridge celebrate Chelsea's opening goal against Everton
Chelsea claimed a 3-1 victory over Everton at Stamford Bridge to strengthen their hold on third place in the Premier League.
Andre Villas-Boas' men were made to work hard by Everton in the early stages of Saturday's encounter but never looked back after Daniel Sturridge opened the scoring on 31 minutes from Ashley Cole's floated cross.
John Terry doubled their advantage on the stroke of half-time with a header from Frank Lampard's excellent free-kick, although Toffees goalkeeper Tim Howard could have done better.
Chelsea made it 3-0 just after the hour mark when Juan Mata delivered a pinpoint left-wing delivery for Ramires to slide in ahead of a couple of Everton defenders.
Apostolos Vellios pulled a late goal back for the visitors within moments of coming on as a substitute, but it was not enough to prevent Everton from sliding to a third straight defeat.
Chelsea, meanwhile, remain three points off the top of the table but are now just one behind reigning champions Manchester United.
This was Chelsea's first match since they announced their bid to buy back the freehold of Stamford Bridge, which they sold to a supporter-led group - Chelsea Pitch Owners - in the 1990s.
Opponents of their proposal, which has been seen as a precursor to a move to a new stadium, distributed leaflets before the game in the hope of rallying support.
The visitors might have been tempted to back the 'Say No CPO' campaign themselves so impressive was their record at Stamford Bridge, and they looked set to extend it in the opening half hour as Chelsea toiled.
Didier Drogba almost played Ramires clean through but Sylvain Distin intervened, while Everton showed their threat on the break when Louis Saha fired straight at Petr Cech.
Marouane Fellaini was booked for catching Ramires in the 16th minute but he might have given the otherwise well-drilled visitors the lead five minutes later, a heavy touch allowing John Obi Mikel to intercept.
Chelsea were crying out for some inspiration and when it finally arrived in the 31st minute, the source was no surprise.
Mata brilliantly picked out Ashley Cole's surge into the box and the left-back stood up a first-time cross which Sturridge simply could not fail to nod into the net.
Everton continued to look more than capable of scoring themselves, but were undone again in first-half stoppage-time when Seamus Coleman fouled Cole and Terry beat Howard to nod home Lampard's free-kick.
Leon Osman almost pulled a goal back straight after the restart with a shot that shaved the outside of the post, but with the comfort of a two-goal lead, Chelsea soon began putting together some lovely passages of play.
Drogba inexplicably stopped running when Jose Bosingwa looked set to put the ball on a plate for the striker and although Osman drilled over, Everton boss David Moyes decided to act, withdrawing Coleman for Royston Drenthe just past the hour mark.
No sooner had he done so and it was game over, a sweeping Chelsea move seeing Mata exchange passes with Drogba before sending in a low cross which was inch-perfect for Ramires to slide home.
Ramires appeared to hurt himself beating two defenders to the ball and had to be helped from the field after the restart, with Florent Malouda coming on.
Sturridge was then controversially booked for diving when challenged by Drenthe, the striker open-mouthed in disbelief at the verdict.
Everton brought on club captain Phil Neville for Cahill and Chelsea responded soon after by withdrawing Mikel and the outstanding Mata for Oriol Romeu and Nicolas Anelka.
The Blues were in cruise control but were denied their first clean sheet since the opening day of the league season when Moyes threw on Vellios for Saha nine minutes from time and watched the substitute immediately slide home Drenthe's cross.
It was merely a consolation and Lampard might have made it 4-1 in stoppage time when he volleyed Drogba's chest down straight at Howard.
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