Chelsea extends lead amid lingering racism row

Associated Press Modified: October 6, 2012 at 12:47 pm •  Published: October 6, 2012
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LONDON (AP) — Embroiled in controversy off the pitch but full of confidence on it, Chelsea strengthened its grip on the Premier League by beating Norwich 4-1 on Saturday as the fallout from a yearlong racism case persisted.

Chelsea's best start to a season in seven years has been overshadowed by captain John Terry being punished by football authorities for racially abusing an opponent, and defender Ashley Cole inflaming the row with a Twitter outburst that is now subject to disciplinary action by his club.

"I think the results are telling us that we are able to blank things out that are surrounding us generally, and we can focus on what is our aim, our target and job — to win football games," Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo said. "So it shows how professional we are, how we respond to it."

The European champions fell behind to winless Norwich after 11 minutes, but Fernando Torres canceled out Grant Holt's goal inside three minutes.

Frank Lampard volleyed Chelsea in front in the 22th, Eden Hazard extended the advantage before the break, and Branislav Ivanovic fired in another in the second half as Chelsea went four points clear of Manchester City.

"The team is in good health," Di Matteo said.

The Football Association panel that imposed a four-match ban on captain John Terry — pending any possible appeals — for racially abusing Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand in a game last October released the reasons for its verdict on Friday.

Cole's "evolving" statements supporting his teammate's defense, though, were condemned by the FA, prompting the England international to launch an obscene outburst against the governing body on Twitter.

Chelsea is now set to fine Cole, while the FA could also charge him with misconduct.

"We've got a social media policy at the club and there's going to be a disciplinary process — action — against the tweet," Di Matteo said. "I'm in favor of the social media entities but they just have to be used sensitively. As long as it's used responsibly it's a good way to communicate."

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