Chelsea Has Premier League Lead Cut to One Point by Manchester United

Chelsea lost 2-1 at Tottenham to have its lead in English soccer’s Premier League cut to one point by Manchester United, which beat Manchester City 1-0.

Jermain Defoe and Gareth Bale scored for Tottenham, while Paul Scholes’s goal in stoppage time gave United the win at rival City. Chelsea has 77 points and defending champion United has 76, with three games remaining.

“The top of the list is only one point difference, and the title is in our hands,” Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti told ESPN. “We don’t have to be afraid, we have to stay calm for the next game.”

Bolton rallied for a 2-1 win at Stoke to improve its chances of staying in the top division, while Wolverhampton and Hull picked up vital points in the fight against relegation with goalless away draws. Burnley lost 2-1 at Sunderland to move closer to dropping out of the Premier League and Everton won 3-2 at Blackburn.

Defoe opened the scoring at White Hart Lane with a penalty kick in the 15th minute after Chelsea captain John Terry was called for a handball.

Florent Malouda had a goal disallowed for Chelsea in the 39th minute after being ruled offside and Bale made it 2-0 just before halftime by firing a shot past Petr Cech.

Chelsea went down to 10 men in the 66th minute after Terry was shown his second yellow card for taking down Bale. Frank Lampard scored for the Blues in stoppage time.

‘Top Class’

Tottenham’s win moves it two points ahead of Manchester City into fourth place, the final qualifying spot for European soccer’s Champions League. Spurs have beaten third-place Arsenal and Chelsea in the past three days and visit Manchester United next weekend.

“They’ve been fantastic, the players,” Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp told ESPN. “To turn in two unbelievable performances against Arsenal and Chelsea is top class.”

Scholes headed in a cross from Patrice Evra with about 20 seconds of three added minutes remaining at the City of Manchester Stadium. It was United’s second late win over City this season, after Michael Owen scored in stoppage time for a 4- 3 win in September.

“It would have been very, very difficult if we had not won,” United manager Alex Ferguson told Sky Sports. “We deserved the match, no question, but I couldn’t see a goal coming.”

United striker Wayne Rooney returned to the lineup after sitting out last weekend’s draw at Blackburn with an ankle injury and played 74 minutes before being replaced by Dimitar Berbatov.

Five Minutes

Matthew Taylor scored twice in the final five minutes to give Bolton the comeback win at Stoke. Wanderers are now six points above the three teams at the bottom of the 20-team standings that will be relegated to the second-division Championship.

Wolverhampton climbed five points clear of the relegation places after its draw at Fulham. Wolves has lost just one of six games to move to 34 points.

Hull remains in the relegation places with its tie at Birmingham but did jump over Burnley in the standings. Hull is 18th with 28 points, three fewer than West Ham directly above it. Burnley is next-to-last with 27 points, 12 more than relegated Portsmouth.

Tim Cahill’s goal in the 90th minute gave Everton the win at Blackburn.

Arsenal can pull within three points of Chelsea with a win at Wigan tomorrow, when Portsmouth hosts Aston Villa. West Ham visits Liverpool in two days.

To contact the reporter on this story: Bob Bensch in London at bbensch@bloomberg.net.

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