Chelsea snatch late winner over Everton
Reuters in London
Chelsea scrambled a stoppage-time winner to snatch a 1-0 victory over Everton on Saturday, showing their Premier League title mettle by claiming three points when they looked on course to suffer another damaging blow.
After drawing their last league game against West Bromwich Albion and suffering a chastening FA Cup defeat to rivals Manchester City, Jose Mourinho's side were looking for a morale-boosting return to form.
Yet they looked sluggish for most of the match and after finally sparking into life they came up against a stubborn Everton rearguard, which only crumbled deep into added time.
Chelsea won a free kick wide on the left, which Frank Lampard whipped into the penalty area and Everton keeper Tim Howard deflected it into his own net with John Terry sliding in to challenge.
Arsenal cruised past Sunderland with a 4-1 win to keep pace in the title race, with two goals from Olivier Giroud, and Tomas Rosicky and Laurent Koscielny also adding to the score sheet.
Manuel Pellegrini's City toiled to beat Stoke 1-0 at the Etihad Stadium and there was a sense of relief when Yaya Toure broke the deadlock.
West Ham came from behind to beat Southampton 3-1, while Croatian international striker Nikica Jelavic netted a double as Hull City took a major stride towards safety with a 4-0 win at fellow promoted Cardiff.
Felix Magath saw victory snatched from his grasp in his first game as Fulham manager after a 1-1 draw at West Bromwich Albion.
Chelsea's Terry told BT Sport: "We're delighted with the win and the three points. We made it difficult, but they are a very good side and are playing well under [manager Roberto] Martinez. It was a tough game today."
"We recently dropped points to West Brom, so it was important to get the points."
With Chelsea having never lost a home league match under Mourinho and Everton without a win at Stamford Bridge in 20 years, it came as a surprise to see Martinez's men make all the running in the first half.
With Lampard returning to centre midfield in place of the energetic Ramires, Chelsea looked flat, their passes lacked zip and movement in attack was limited and uninventive.
The visitors dominated the opening 45 minutes with Leon Osman forcing a finger-tip save from Petr Cech, Phil Jagielka glancing a header wide when unmarked and Kevin Mirallas having a shot blocked by Gary Cahill.
Predictably Chelsea changed things at the break and Ramires was prematurely summoned from the bench to replace a tired-looking Oscar.
The pressure on the Everton goal built as the game wore on but Chelsea's attacking waves broke down at the final hurdle until the third minute of stoppage time.
Reuters, Associated Press, Agence-France Presse