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The England left-back admitted that Tony Pulis' team made it a "battle" at Stamford Bridge but was pleased to secure the three points that keep them in first place

Chelsea defender Ashley Cole wants the Blues to hold on to first place in the Premier League for as long as possible after their victory over Stoke City on Saturday ensured that they remained in the driver's seat.

Cole bagged a late winning goal to see off the Potters and hand Roberto Di Matteo's team their fourth win in four matches this season.

Occupied by their FA Cup and Champions League campaigns, Chelsea slumped to a sixth place finish in 2011-12 but the left-back is enjoying their return to Premier League title contention.

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"It is always nice to score but it was more about the win and staying top of the league," Cole told the club's official website.

"Mentally that is good for us. Last season we didn't have too good a time in the Premier League, it has taken two years for us to be top of the league again and hopefully we can stay there, but it is a long way to go."

Cole admitted that Stoke made it "a battle" at Stamford Bridge and acknowledged that they presented a stern defensive proposition.

"It was a battle," he commented. It is always physical and Stoke always make it hard for us to play our football. They defend deep with 10 men so it is hard to break them down, but for the goal it was a great move down the right and I took a chance and got in the box.

"I had a few shots in the first half when I had maybe too much time to think and they went over but this one came so quick that I didn't have much time to think. The first thing that came into my brain was to try to dink it over the keeper because I thought he would go down."
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