Blues pull clear, Reds & Spurs win

BY foxsports • December 16, 2009

The Blues restored their lead over second-placed Manchester United - but they needed a late penalty from Frank Lampard to see off battling Pompey 2-1 at Stamford Bridge. Carlo Ancelotti's pacesetters have stuttered recently, with defeats by Blackburn in the Carling Cup and Manchester City in the league followed by Saturday's 3-3 draw with Everton. Things began well enough for them, though, when Nicolas Anelka coolly converted Alex's cross in the 23rd minute. Basement side Portsmouth stunned their hosts with a shock equaliser from Frederic Piquionne six minutes after half-time. Pompey boss Avram Grant, on his return to his former stomping ground, looked set to claim a precious point - but Marc Wilson badly mistimed a challenge on Branislav Ivanovic and Lampard converted from the spot 11 minutes from time. Arsenal had taken advantage of Chelsea's slips by closing to within six points of their rivals, with a game in hand, but their title challenge suffered another setback when they were held to a 1-1 draw by Burnley at Turf Moor. Cesc Fabregas put Arsenal ahead early on after showing impressive persistence in the box - but the hosts levelled from the spot after Thomas Vermaelen caught Andre Bikey with a high challenge. Graham Alexander duly converted in the 28th minute and it was the hosts who came closest to a winner when Chris Eagles hit a post. The point was still enough to move Arsenal back above Aston Villa into third on goal difference, with both clubs only two points ahead of Tottenham, who boosted their Champions League hopes with an impressive 3-0 win over Manchester City. City's only previous defeat this season had come against their neighbours United but Spurs dominated proceedings at White Hart Lane and triumphed thanks to goals either side of half-time from Niko Kranjcar (37) and Jermain Defoe (54) and a late individual effort from the Croatian. The defeat saw big-spending City drop to eighth behind Birmingham and Liverpool, who gained a much-needed three points thanks to a 2-1 win over Wigan. Having promised Reds fans he would secure a top-four spot come the end of the season, manager Rafael Benitez knew nothing less than victory would do at Anfield. And Liverpool achieved it thanks to a ninth-minute goal from David Ngog and a late second from Fernando Torres, who started the match on the bench. It was not all plain sailing for the hosts, though, with Jason Scotland hitting the bar with the score at 1-0 and Charles N'Zogbia netting in injury time.

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