PREMIER LEAGUE: Contentious decisions help Chelsea keep title hopes alive
Two questionable decisions have handed Chelsea a 2-1 win over Tottenham this evening to keep their title chances very much alive. Spurs hit the front thanks to a scorcher from Sandro in the 19th minute but their lead was pegged back when Frank Lampard's speculative shot on the stroke of half-time escaped the grasp of goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes and trickled over the line.
However, upon viewing the replay, it was quite clear that the entire ball had not got over the line but the linesman called it a goal to give the home side some hope.
Chelsea did look much more likely for the remainder of the game but they did need more luck to get the win when Salomon Kalou was off-side late in the piece when he poked home.
Chelsea probably should have had a penalty just before the 70-minute mark when Spurs defender Younes Kaboul clattered into the back of Florent Malouda but nonetheless, the three points will stand for Carlo Ancelotti's men.
The win has put the Blues within three points of Premiership favourites Manchester United, who meet third-placed Arsenal at the Emirates tomorrow, whilst the loss made Tottenham's chances of finishing in the top four extremely difficult as they sit four points behind Manchester City who have played a game less and meet bottom-of-the-table West Ham United at home tomorrow.
Venue: Stamford Bridge, London Crowd: 41,681 Referee: Andre Marriner Yellow cards:CHE - Branislav Ivanovic 38', Didier Drogba 49', John Terry 70' TOT - Roman Pavlyuchenko 57'
It was a fairly tame beginning to the match until Didier Drogba sparked some life into proceedings with a brilliant free-kick attempt from long range which dipped and swerved but was finger-tipped onto the crossbar by Spurs keeper Heurelho Gomes.
Immediately after, Michael Essien tried his luck from way outside the area but Gomes was up to the task after the sighter and managed a comfortable save as Chelsea made their intentions clear.
GOAL In the 19th minute, Tottenham's Rafael van der Vaart creatively flicked a ball into the path of defensive midfielder Sandro who produced a piece of magic when he hit a dripping volley from the best part of 25 yards which Petr Cech got a finger to but could not divert it away from the back of the net. It put the visitors a goal ahead but for some reason manager Harry Redknapp was not all too pleased with the Brazilian who he clearly wants to remain in a defensive position rather than venture forward.
Four minutes after the goal, the Blues were close to being level when Essien headed goalward from close range but Gomes was able to parry it over the bar before Fernando Torres should have done much better from the ensuing corner when the ball fell to him unmarked at the back post.
Not a lot was happening in the way of goalscoring chances as the half progressed with both sides trying to find a way through but in saying that, it was a good match to watch between the London rivals.
GOAL Right on the stroke of half-time, Frank Lampard tried his luck from 30 yards with Gomes making a now customary error with the ball somehow slipping through his grip and trickling through his legs. As it went goalward, the Brazilian scrambled to keep it out and appeared to have flicked it back to safety but the linesman paid the goal much to the dismay of the Spurs fans and players to make it 1-1 just prior to the half-time whistle.
Eight minutes into the second half, Drogba got hold of a shot from long range which tested Gomes to the full as the Blues striker tried to get his side up and about again but the mid-stages of the second 45 minutes were much like that of the first with neither side creating much in the way of out-and-out chances.
Drogba again took a free-kick from a long distance and the dipping shot caused problems for Gomes, who was down on confidence after his earlier error. The deflection from the Brazilian's gloves fell for substitute Ramires but it came at him at such a pace that he could do little more than knock it over the crossbar.
Chelsea were unlucky not to get a penalty with just over 20 minutes to go when Younes Kaboul felled Florent Malouda in the area as he bore down on goal but referee Andre Marriner waved away the protests as the chants from the Blues fans against the match official rang around Stamford Bridge.
The home side were looking the more likely to score with plenty of forward forays as Spurs found it hard to get clear in their final third.
GOAL That goal came with just over a minute to go in regular time when they basically barged their way through for the winner when Lampard slipped a ball through for substitute Nicolas Anelka who glanced it on for Drogba. The Ivorian striker turned his marker in the area before getting a mediocre shot off but fortunately it fell into the path of Salomon Kalou, who had been brought on just after the hour-mark, and he did the rest with a simple finish from the top of the six-yard box and the goal stood despite calls for off-side.
Chelsea Petr Cech (gk) - Branislav Ivanovic, John Terry, David Luiz, Ashley Cole - John Obi Mikel, Frank Lampard, Michael Essien (Ramires 57'), Florent Malouda (Anelka 73') - Didier Drogba, Fernando Torres (Kalou 63')
Subs - Ross Turnbull (gk), Ramires (57'), Samolon Kalou (63'), Nicolas Anelka (73'), Yossi Benayoun, Yuri Zhirkov, Alex
Tottenham Heurelho Gomes (gk) - Younes Kaboul, William Gallas, Michael Dawson, Vedran Corluka (Pienaar 79') - Luka Modric, Sandro, Gareth Bale, Aaron Lennon - Rafael van der Vaart (Jenas 85'), Roman Pavlyuchenko (Defoe 58')