Chelsea claimed a 1-0 win at Reading in a bad-tempered match but victory could have come at a price as Chelsea’s two goalkeepers ended Sunday night in hospital after both being knocked unconscious.
Petr Cech, Chelsea’s Czech international, had barely touched the ball before a first-minute challenge from midfielder Stephen Hunt left him sprawled on the turf at the Madejski Stadium.
Reading finished how they had started and in the dying moments of normal time Ibrahima Sonko flattened Cech’s replacement Carlo Cudicini, who followed his predecessor to the casualty ward.
Cech’s condition was believed to have worsened by the time he reached hospital and he was detained overnight with medical staff saying he was suffering from mild concussion.
The two goalkeepers are not the only ones with headaches this morning as the Chelsea manager, Jose Mourinho, now has a serious selection worry before his side’s crucial Champions League match with the holders Barcelona on Tuesday.
By the time John Terry took up duties between the sticks Chelsea were one-up through an Ivar Ingimarsson own goal and both sides were down to ten men after Jon Obi Mikel and Reading substitute Andre Bikey were given their marching orders.
Rooney had his best game this
Mourinho says he expects the Football Association to take action against Hunt for his challenge and that Cech was lucky to be alive.
The win keeps the champions second in the table on 19 points, behind on goal difference to Man United who had a far less violent afternoon’s work at Wigan, winning 3-1.
They did however have to recover from a thumping strike from a free-kick by Wigan’s Leighton Baines after only four minutes.
Roo-turn to form
Nemanja Vidic scored his first United goal in the second half with a strong header from a Ryan Giggs corner.
United laid sige to Wigan in the second half and four minutes later they were ahead after Wayne Rooney crossed for Louis Saha to skillfully control and finish.
Manager Alex Ferguson described Rooney’s performance as his best so far for United this season and the England star showed some of his best form in the first half when he crashed the ball against the bar after creating room from nowhere.
Ole Gunnar Solksjaer continued his scoring form by tucking away the third in stoppage time.
McCarthy put Blackburn ahead
Elsewhere Liverpool continue to lose ground after drawing 1-1 at home to Blackburn Rovers.
Their title hopes are already beginning to fade just two months into the season and they required a second-half equaliser from Welsh international Craig Bellamy, against his former club, to cancel out Benni McCarthy’s opener and claim a point.
In their pomp
It is instead Portsmouth who lead the chase for United and Chelsea after Pompey notched their fifth win in eight games, beating West Ham 2-0 at Fratton Park.
Veteran strikers Nwanko Kanu and Andy Cole netted in either half to pile the pressure on the Hammers manager, Alan Pardew, who has seen his side’s abysmal form take them into the relegation zone.
Despite performing miracles in the league and taking West Ham to the cup final last season, Pardew will be looking over his shoulder as his side have lost six on the spin since the arrival of the Argentineans Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano and recent rumours have linked former England boss Sven-Goran Erikkson with his job.
Arsenal continued their surge upwards with a comfortable 3-0 win at home to Watford, their fourth straight victory that took them to fourth on the table.
17 year-old Theo Walcott started his first Premiership match for the Gunners and an own goal from Jordan Stewart plus strikes from Thierry Henry and Emmanuel Adebayor saw his side comfortably home.
Walcott finally makes his debut,
Surprisingly, eight games into the season, Aston Villa are the only unbeaten team after they claimed a point at home to Tottenham and Everton succumbed away at Middlesbrough.
Villa striker Juan Pablo Angel had three calamitous minutes to forget when he missed a penalty and then put through his own net with just 15 minutes to go.
But Villa captain, Gareth Barry came to his rescue five minutes later to make it one each.
Middlesbrough produced one of the livlier performances of the season with a Yakubu penalty and Mark Viduka ending Everton’s unbeaten run, a Tim Cahill goal their only consolation.
Last and, on this particular day least, there was nothing lively at all about Manchester City’s match at home to Sheffield United which finished goalless after a turgid 90 minutes.