Soccer

Chelsea defeats Stoke to claim 13th successive EPL win

  • Stoke City's Ibrahim Afellay, left, and Chelsea's Willian battle for the ball during their English Premier League soccer match at Stamford Bridge, London, Saturday, Dec. 31, 2016. (Adam Davy/PA via AP)

    Stoke City's Ibrahim Afellay, left, and Chelsea's Willian battle for the ball during their English Premier League soccer match at Stamford Bridge, London, Saturday, Dec. 31, 2016. (Adam Davy/PA via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • Chelsea's Marcos Alonso, left, and Stoke City's Mame Biram Diouf battle for the ball during their English Premier League soccer match at Stamford Bridge, London, Saturday, Dec. 31, 2016. (Adam Davy/PA via AP)

    Chelsea's Marcos Alonso, left, and Stoke City's Mame Biram Diouf battle for the ball during their English Premier League soccer match at Stamford Bridge, London, Saturday, Dec. 31, 2016. (Adam Davy/PA via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • Chelsea's N'Golo Kante, left, and Stoke City's Xherdan Shaqiri battle for the ball during their English Premier League soccer match at Stamford Bridge, London, Saturday, Dec. 31, 2016. (Adam Davy/PA via AP)

    Chelsea's N'Golo Kante, left, and Stoke City's Xherdan Shaqiri battle for the ball during their English Premier League soccer match at Stamford Bridge, London, Saturday, Dec. 31, 2016. (Adam Davy/PA via AP)  (The Associated Press)

Willian scored twice as leader Chelsea overcame Stoke 4-2 to equal an English Premier League record for 13 straight wins in a single season.

Bruno Martins Indi and Peter Crouch struck for Stoke to cancel out goals by Gary Cahill and Willian. But Willian struck for a second time moments after Crouch's 64th-minute equalizer and Diego Costa netted a fourth.

Chelsea held a nine-point lead over Liverpool, which hosted Manchester City on Saturday night.

Arsenal was the last team to win 13 matches in a row in a solitary campaign in 2002. The Gunners extended that landmark to 14 the following season and Chelsea can match that streak at Tottenham on Wednesday.

Chelsea's defense will have to be tighter at White Hart Lane. Saturday's win was the first time Chelsea conceded more than one goal in a game since the Sept. 24 loss at Arsenal.

Chelsea's 34th-minute opener came when Cesc Fabregas' corner was met by Cahill, who rose highest to head into the net.

Stoke leveled a minute into the second half through Martins Indi. Chelsea responded, stepping up the intensity and Stoke goalkeeper Lee Grant was beaten again in the 57th. Victor Moses centered for Eden Hazard, who laid the ball off for Willian to power the ball into the bottom corner.

The lead lasted less than seven minutes, with Mame Diouf crossing for Crouch to tuck in the leveler.

Once again Chelsea retaliated, going ahead for a third time when Fabregas fed Willian to emphatically finish at the near post. And Costa marked his return from suspension by out-muscling Martins Indi before drilling in his 14th goal of the season.