Chelsea snatches close victory over EvertonJohn Terry grabbed a stoppage-time winner as Chelsea showed its Premier League title mettle by snatching a 1-0 victory over Everton on Saturday.
The Chelsea captain strained every sinew to get a faint touch to a Frank Lampard free kick in the 93rd minute and keep his team a point clear of Arsenal, which thrashed Sunderland, 4-1, and three points ahead of Manchester City, which beat Stoke City, 1-0.
Olivier Giroud netted twice for Arsenal, while Yaya Toure was the match-winner for Manchester City, which has a game in hand on their two rivals.
Champions Manchester United, in the sixth spot, are no longer challenging for the title, but Manager David Moyes celebrated wildly as Robin van Persie’s penalty and a goal from Wayne Rooney secured a 2-0 win at Crystal Palace.
After drawing their last league match against West Bromwich Albion and suffering a chastening FA Cup defeat to rivals Manchester City, Jose Mourinho’s side was 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 rear guard that only crumbled deep into added time.
“The feeling when you lose points in the last minute, like we did at West Brom, is obviously a bad feeling. When you win in the last minute it’s the opposite, so this is basically compensation for the points we lost at West Brom,” Chelsea boss Mourinho said.
It came as a surprise to see Everton do all the running in the first half, but Chelsea changed things up at the break, summoning the energetic Ramires from the bench to replace an injured Oscar.
The switch had an immediate impact on the flow of the game and the pressure built on the Everton goal. But Chelsea’s attacking waves broke down at the final hurdle until the third minute of stoppage time.
At the final whistle, Everton’s feeling of injustice was heightened as it looked like Brazilian Ramires had gone down easily under a challenge from Phil Jagielka to bring about the free kick that led to the only goal.
“It was one of those situations where players were trying to buy too many free kicks,” said Everton boss Roberto Martinez.
“You need a strong referee ... you can see they are trying to get a dead-ball situation because they couldn’t get any joy from open play.”
Meanwhile, the bullied became the bullies at Emirates Stadium as Arsenal recovered from its 2-0 home defeat by Bayern Munich in the Champions League on Wednesday to inflict a bruising on relegation strugglers Sunderland.
Having spent most of the match against the Germans chasing shadows, the home team jealously hogged possession against Gus Poyet’s side, scything through them with a swagger that has been absent recently.
With Mesut Ozil rested after his penalty miss against Bayern, Arsenal took the lead after five minutes when Giroud, put on the bench in midweek, put the finishing touch to a sweeping passing move.
The Frenchman capitalized on shocking defending to double the lead after 31 minutes and Tomas Rosicky capped another excellent move to make it 3-0 three minutes before the break.
Sunderland left Laurent Koscielny in acres of space to power in a free header before the visitors mustered a late consolation through Emanuele Giaccherini’s smart volley.