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PREMIER LEAGUE: Chelsea keep top-four hopes alive with late winner against Wigan

Chelsea have moved to within two points of the top four courtesy of a 2-1 home win over Wigan Athletic today.

An injury-time winner from Juan Mata gave the Blues every chance of pushing one of two London rivals - Tottenham or Arsenal - out of a Champions League position as Roberto Di Matteo made it eight wins from 10 games since taking over from Andre Villas-Boas.

Chelsea had an indifferent beginning but were starting to get on top in the second half and managed to go ahead just after the hour-mark in rather fortuitous circumstances when Branislav Ivanovic poked home from close range. The defender had scored his third goal in his last two matches but every Wigan player surrounded referee Mike Jones to argue the point that Ivanovic was well offside when Raul Meireles played his ball into the area.

After that disappointment, Wigan had put Chelsea under some sustained pressure as the minutes ticked by and with under ten minutes remaining, the Latics produced a leveler of some quality when substitute Mohamed Diame, returning from injury, took a few touches outside the area before unleashing a powerful left-footer past Petr Cech for his first goal since October.

Just as it looked like Wigan may sneak away with a point, Chelsea scored an injury-time winner through Juan Mata when the Spaniard bundled home a deflection off the post which came from a brilliant Fernando Torres volley from Didier Drogba's chipped ball to the right side of the area.

It was a harsh blow for Roberto Martinez's Latics who had earlier been kept in the contest by goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi who produced a number of quality saves to deny Gary Cahill's swerving effort, Mata's close range right-footed effort and twice keeping out Drogba.

Apart from those instances, Wigan played superb football and were so unlucky not to equalise moments after Ivanovic's opener. After scoring, the right-back then came up with a game-saving block to deny Franco di Santo whose goal-bound attempt was knocked clear on the last line.

In injury-time, Chelsea could have gone away with a two-goal victory but Al Habsi denied Torres when one-on-on with the Spaniard however it made no difference to the result with the Blues to take their unbeaten run at Stamford Bridge to six matches.

TRIBAL ASKS: Is Torres slowly on his way back to form? Admittedly at times today he looked out of touch when slipping over under no pressure but his fine volley brought about the winning goal. Is that shot in itself enough to suggest he may be shaking off the £50m woes?

Chelsea: 2 (Branislav Ivanovic 61', Juan Mata 90+3') Wigan Athletic: 1 (Mohamed Diame 82')

Stamford Bridge, London - 40,651

Yellow cards:CHE - Michael Essien 22', Florent Malouda 53' WIG - Shaun Maloney 61', Maynor Figueroa 68'

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Andrew Slevison
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Andrew Slevison

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