Premier League Roundup, Dec. 28
Chelsea extended its Premier League lead to five points by fighting
back to beat Fulham 2-1 on Monday, while Tottenham returned to the
Champions League places by easing to a 2-0 victory over West Ham.
Chelsea had Chris Smalling’s own goal to thank for the
victory after struggling against its west London rival.
Chelsea’s grip on the league lead had been loosened by two
consecutive draws, but the team returned to winning ways in front
of former manager Jose Mourinho.
The Inter Milan coach, whose side will play Chelsea in the
last 16 of the Champions League, witnessed a dire start from the
home team with Zoltan Gera netting inside three minutes when he met
Bobby Zamora’s pass, after Chelsea captain John Terry had failed to
“We went behind and the most important thing is the reaction
in the second half, which was fantastic,” Chelsea manager Carlo
Ancelotti said. “With this performance we finished a difficult
period for the team. This could be an important victory in the
season because I’m very happy with the reaction of the team during
a bad spell.”
It took until the 73rd minute for Didier Drogba to equalize
in the Ivory Coast striker’s last match before going to Angola for
the African Cup of Nations.
And inside two minutes, Smalling inadvertently turned the
ball into his own net after goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer blocked
Daniel Sturridge’s shot.
“It’s very disappointing to put in such a great performance
and have nothing to show for it,” Fulham manager Roy Hodgson said.
“It would have been nice to have gone away with at least a point –
we pushed Chelsea to the limit and we can consider ourselves very
Chelsea has 45 points, while Manchester United has 40 before
it hosts Wigan on Wednesday, when third-place Arsenal travels to
At White Hart Lane, Luka Modric marked his return to
Tottenham’s starting lineup by scoring the opener against West Ham.
Modric, who has been restricted to two brief substitute
appearances since breaking his right leg in August, scored in the
11th by sweeping Aaron Lennon’s cross into the net.
Lennon also fed Jermain Defoe in 81st and the former West Ham
striker fired home after keeper Robert Green parried his initial
“We’ve got a fantastic squad, great players and I think we’re
good enough to compete up there,” Defoe said.
The victory lifted Tottenham to fourth with 37 points, one
behind Arsenal but two ahead of Aston Villa and Manchester City,
which won 3-0 at Wolverhampton – its first away victory since Aug.
Carlos Tevez scored twice, either side of second-half
substitute Javier Garrido’s free kick, as City made it two wins out
of two under new manager Roberto Mancini.
Tevez’s first-half strike took a deflection off Christophe
Berra on its way past American goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann, but the
Argentina forward’s powerful strike in the closing minutes was
“We have been working very hard on the tactics and I think we
are doing well,” City captain Kolo Toure said. “This is the second
clean sheet and we hope that we keep going on like that.”
Birmingham is now three points behind City and Villa after
beating Stoke 1-0 to climb above Liverpool into seventh.
Cameron Jerome bundled the ball over the line in the 50th to
help Birmingham extend its unbeaten run to 11 matches.
“With every week, every victory, every good performance, then
the expectations rise, and the players have met them head on,”
manager Alex McLeish said. “There’s a big danger the players will
become tired if I keep naming an unchanged side.”
At Goodison Park, Everton ended a seven-match winless streak
in the league by beating 10-man Burnley 2-0, with both goals coming
after Stephen Jordan was sent off for the visitors.
James Vaughan broke the deadlock in the 83rd, with his first
goal in two years coming seconds after he went on as a substitute.
Steven Pienaar added another in stoppage time.
Blackburn and Sunderland played out a 2-2 draw at Ewood Park
with all the goals coming in the second half.
Darren Bent’s opener for Sunderland was quickly canceled out
by Morten Gamst Pedersen.
The visitors regained the lead against the run of play in the
65th when Bent netted his 13th goal of the season.
But substitute El-Hadji Diouf salvaged a point for Blackburn
with a 77th-minute header.