LONDON: Ashley Cole scored his first goal in more than  two years as Chelsea recovered from their midweek European disappointment to beat Stoke 1-0 at Stamford Bridge and thus stay top of the Premier League.

Cole, who last scored against Wigan in May 2010, lifted an 85th-minute winner over visiting goalkeeper Asmir Begovic after the ball had been knocked into the box by Juan Mata. That was a bitter ending to the game for a Stoke side who had defended obstinately and for whom, on the break, Marc Wilson tested Petr Cech from long range and Jonathan Walters and Matthew Etherington both shot narrowly wide.

But Roberto Di Matteo’s men also looked dangerous, Fernando Torres fluffing  the best chance in the first half, and Oscar twice being denied by keeper Begovic.

Southampton hit back from behind to earn their first points of the season with an emphatic 4-1 triumph over Aston Villa. Saints had  lost their first four matches back in the top flight and it appeard likely to be five when Darren Bent punished hesitant defending in the 36th-minute.

However Rickie Lambert stabbed home the Saints’ equaliser on 58 minutes and five minutes later they were ahead when defender Nathaniel Clyne slotted past Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan. Saints made sure of victory on 72 minutes when Jason Puncheon’s right-footed drive deflected off Ciaran Clark. Lambert sealed victory with a penalty in the last  seconds.

Steven Fletcher scored his fourth goal in three appearances for  Sunderland but it was not enough to claim three points for the Black Cats as West Ham snatched a late 1-1 draw at Upton Park.

Fletcher finished off a fine Sebastian Larsson cross in the ninth minute and came close to a second soon afterwards when his effort in the box was blocked by James Collins.

Sam Allardyce’s men poured on the pressure with both Ricardo Vaz Te and Kevin Nolan coming close before Nolan volleyed the equaliser in injury time from a header down by substitute Modibo Maiga.

West Bromwich Albion continued their superb start to the season as Romelu Lukaku drilled the only goal of the game in the 71st minute to see off Reading 1-0 at The Hawthorns.

Hugo Rodallega came back to haunt his former club as he netted the opener forFulham in a 2-1 win at  Wigan. Rodallega’s 31st-minute header set Fulham on their way to three points and Damien Duff slotted home to make it 2-0 on 68 minutes. Arouna Kone netted an injury-time consolation for the hosts.

In the early kick-off, Everton continued their promising start to the season by coasting to a 3-0 win at Swansea.

The Toffees dominated from the off and Victor Anichebe fired home from close range after 21 minutes before Kevin Mirallas finished off a superb flowing move just before half-time.

Swansea went close through Angel Rangel and Ki Sung-yueng but their hopes of a comeback were dashed early in the second half when substitute Nathan Dyer was sent off, before Everton’s Marouane Fellaini administered the final blow.

= = = =