Chelsea and Arsenal scored late goals to win and keep their places at the top of English soccer’s Premier League.
Branislav Ivanovic’s goal in the 84th minute gave Chelsea a 2-1 win at Blackburn, while Arsenal beat West Ham 1-0 on Alex Song’s 88th-minute score. Chelsea leads the standings with 25 points, five more than Arsenal and Manchester United.
“It was a battle,” Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger told Sky Sports. “At the end of the day, our keep-going spirit brought us through.”
Manchester United beat Tottenham 2-0 to remain third behind Arsenal on goal difference. Wolverhampton Wanderers defeated Manchester City 2-1, Fulham beat Wigan 2-0 and Everton beat Stoke 1-0.
Chelsea came from a goal behind at Blackburn’s Ewood Park for its eighth win in 10 games.
Benjani Mwaruwari gave Rovers the lead in the 21st minute with a header, before Nicolas Anelka tied the score in the 39th minute with Chelsea’s first shot on target.
The Blues then took the lead with six minutes remaining when Ivanovic, left alone at the far post, headed a cross from Yuri Zhirkov past Paul Robinson.
Goalkeeper Robert Green starred for last-place West Ham at the Emirates Stadium in north London before Song came to Arsenal’s rescue.
Green stopped first-half shots from Cesc Fabregas and Song and tipped Salvatore Squillaci’s header over the crossbar. Samir Nasri hit the crossbar with a free kick for the Gunners in the second half, Theo Walcott struck the post and Green denied Fabregas once again.
Arsenal finally broke through with two minutes left as defender Gael Clichy lofted a cross which was headed in by the diving Song. West Ham has not won in 23 away games, tying Fulham for the longest streak in the league.
Manchester United kept pace with Arsenal by beating Tottenham, which is winless in its past 23 visits to Old Trafford.
Nemanja Vidic gave United the lead with a header in the first half and Nani added a controversial goal with six minutes left to secure the victory.
Nani made a claim for a penalty after going down in the area and hit the ball with his hand.
Spurs goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes believed play was stopped and placed the ball on the ground for a free kick as Nani came from behind him and kicked it into the net. Referee Mark Clattenburg conferred with his assistant, who had his flag raised, and allowed the score to stand, drawing ire from Tottenham players.
“How can you give a goal, he’s put his hand on the ball?” Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp said in an interview with ESPN. “It should have been a free kick. Everyone saw it was handball, except the referee.”
Wolves rallied to beat fourth-place Manchester City and move three points clear of West Ham at the bottom of the table.
Emmanuel Adebayor put City, which entered the game eve on points with Arsenal and Manchester United, in front with a penalty kick in the 23rd minute. Nenad Milijas tied the game seven minutes later and David Edwards scored early in the second half by putting a rebound past goalkeeper Joe Hart.
Ayegbeni Yakubu scored as Everton beat Stoke at home to extend its unbeaten streak to five games and move up to seventh in the standings. Clint Dempsey scored both goals as Fulham beat Wigan for its first win in six league matches.
Liverpool visits Bolton, Birmingham is at Aston Villa and Newcastle hosts Sunderland in tomorrow’s games, while Blackpool meets West Brom in two days.