Spurs down Chelsea as title race takes new twist

LONDON, April 17, 2010 (AFP) - Tottenham Hotspur breathed fresh life into the English Premier League title race with a 2-1 win over leaders Chelsea on a dramatic day of top-flight action in England on Saturday.

Spurs's win, secured by goals from Jermain Defoe and Gareth Bale, cut double-chasers Chelsea's lead over champions Manchester United to just a point with three games left to play.

Tottenham Hotspur's Gareth Bale in action during the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea on April 17, 2010. AFP PHOTO

And to make matters worse for visitors Chelsea, they finished the match against their London rivals down to 10 men after captain John Terry was sent-off for two bookable offences at White Hart Lane.

But defiant Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti told ESPN: "The title is still in our hands, we don't have to be afraid, we just have to look to the next game against Stoke.

"We didn't do so good but Tottenham played very well," the Italian added.

Tottenham's victory meant Harry Redknapp's side, who last weekend lost an FA Cup semi-final to Portsmouth before bouncing back in Wednesday's north London derby against Arsenal, moved into fourth place.

That left them two points clear of Manchester City in the race for the final Champions League spot on offer to English clubs.

"They've been fantastic," said Redknapp of his team. "After the disappointment of last Sunday to come back with these two wins is top class.

"We were even better today than we were against Arsenal, in the first 30 minutes we completely dominated."

Defoe put Spurs ahead from the penalty spot in the 15th minute after England defender Terry handled in the box and Bale, on target in the 2-1 win over Arsenal, doubled the lead a minute before half-time when he beat Petr Cech at the goalkeeper's near post.

Terry, already booked for a foul on Roman Pavlyuchenko, was sent off for a second yellow card offence by referee Phil Dowd after he went to ground and brought down Wales international Bale in the 67th minute.

Spurs, who wasted numerous chances to kill the game off, saw Chelsea pull a goal back in stoppage time through England midfielder Frank Lampard.

Earlier, veteran midfielder Paul Scholes kept United's title ambitions alive with a stoppage-time goal in a 1-0 derby win away to Manchester City.

There were barely 20 seconds left in the three minutes of added-on time at the end of the match when Scholes headed in Patrice Evra's cross at Eastlands.

"Towards the end, City made a bit of a charge, it got a bit open, the game, and I decided to push Scholesy forward a bit and it paid off," explained United manager Sir Alex Ferguson.

City's Italian boss Roberto Mancini, while disappointed by defeat, insisted his side's bid for Champions League was still on course.

"The crucial match will be against Tottenham here (on May 5)," he said.

Sunderland edged Burnley nearer relegation with a 2-1 home win where Frazier Campbell and Darren Bent scored for the Black Cats in the first half before Steven Thompson pullled a goal back for the Clarets eight minutes from time.

Meanwhile second-bottom Hull remained in the drop zone after a goalless draw away to Birmingham.

Australia international Tim Cahill's 10th goal of the season boosted Everton's European hopes as he scored the winner in a 3-2 victory away to Blackburn Rovers.

Everton took the lead at Ewood Park through Mikel Arteta's fourth minute penalty after the Spaniard was brought down by New Zealand's Ryan Nelsen.

But Rovers levelled after Steven Nzonzi let fly with a swerving 30-yard shot in the 69th minute.

Substitutes then scored for both sides, Everton forward Yakubu heading the visitors 2-1 up less than 30 seconds after coming on before Rovers striker Jason Roberts equalised nine minutes from time.

Yakubu then turned provider for Cahill's 90th minute winner.

Bolton all but assured themselves of Premier League football next season after two goals in the final five minutes from Matt Taylor saw them come from behind to beat Stoke, who'd opened the scoring through Dave Kitson, 2-1.

Wolves inched nearer safety with a goalless draw away to Europa League semi-finalists Fulham.

Strugglers Wigan are at home to Arsenal on Sunday when already-relegated Portsmouth face Aston Villa at Fratton Park.

Liverpool, put up for sale by US co-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett on Friday, play relegation-threatened West Ham at Anfield on Monday.

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