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Football
Chelsea boost top-four charge
Blues snatch a late controversial win over Wigan to close in on Arsenal as Spurs are held at Sunderland.
Last Modified: 07 Apr 2012 18:55
Juan Mata's late controversial winner moves Chelsea above Newcastle and just two points behind fourth-placed London rivals Arsenal [GETTY]

Chelsea grabbed a 2-1 victory over Wigan Athletic thanks to an offside goal by Branislav Ivanovic and a last-gasp Juan Mata winner on Saturday to boost their push for a top four finish in the English Premier League.

Tottenham Hotspur climbed to third spot with a 0-0 draw at Sunderland but Arsenal can move back above them with a point at home to second-placed Manchester City on Sunday when leaders Manchester United, five points clear on 76, host Queens Park Rangers.

Chelsea went ahead through Ivanovic's controversial strike, only for Mohamed Diame to deservedly level for the visitors but Juan Mata secured victory as the fifth-placed hosts went three points behind Spurs and Wigan were left second from bottom.

Controversy

It was desperately unfortunate for Wigan, who had matched their more illustrious opponents for much of the game and surrounded the officials when recently prolific defender Ivanovic netted after 62 minutes when he was metres offside.

The nature of Chelsea's last-minute winner was also harsh on the visitors, although they had overcommitted themselves in attack. Fernando Torres' wicked strike against the post hit fellow Spaniard Mata on the chest and trickled in.

"We fought until the last minute for the three points, having a lot of chances to score," said Mata, whose side reached the Champions League last four in midweek and visit Fulham on Monday before next weekend's FA Cup semi-final with Spurs.

"We got a little lucky in the last minute and the points are important for us. Chelsea never give up and today we did it." 

Newcastle United, who won 2-0 at Swansea City on Friday to continue their strong form, are level with Chelsea on 56 points in sixth place. Spurs have 59 points with Arsenal on 58.

In the early kickoff, Sunderland and Spurs struggled to create clear-cut opportunities but the visitors felt aggrieved that Phil Bardsley and Michael Turner got away with handballs in the box, the first from a goalbound Emmanuel Adebayor header.

Rafael van der Vaart had two half chances for Tottenham, who have lost some of their verve since manager Harry Redknapp was made the bookmakers' favourite for the vacant England job.

Results & fixtures

Saturday 7 April

Sunderland 0-0 Tottenham
Bolton 0-3 Fulham
Chelsea 2-1 Wigan
Liverpool 1-1 Aston Villa
Norwich 2-2 Everton
West Brom 3-0 Blackburn
Stoke 2-1 Wolves

Sunday 8 April 

Man United v QPR
Arsenal v Man City

Ninth-placed Sunderland, flying since manager Martin O'Neill took over in December, had their own penalty shout when the ball clipped Scott Parker on the arm but the referee was again unmoved.

Liverpool draw

Beleaguered Liverpool salvaged a point in a 1-1 draw with strugglers Aston Villa having been behind to Chris Herd's 10th minute goal after a mistake by stand-in goalkeeper Doni.

Villa seemed set for a rare victory at Anfield but Luis Suarez equalised with an 82nd-minute header to save eighth-placed Liverpool from a seventh loss in eight league games.

Kenny Dalglish's outfit are on their worst run since 1954 but had a series of chances with Dutch striker Dirk Kuyt missing a sitter and Uruguayan Suarez striking the post.

Third-bottom Blackburn Rovers lost 3-0 at former boss Roy Hodgson's West Bromwich Albion to confirm their mini-revival is well and truly over and Bolton Wanderers are just a point clear of the danger zone following a 3-0 home defeat by Fulham.

Mid-table Norwich City enjoyed an entertaining 2-2 home draw with Everton while basement side Wolverhampton Wanderers lost 2-1 at Stoke City in the late game to effectively stand seven points adrift of safety because of their poor goal difference.

Source:
Reuters
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