LONDON, Jan 30, 2010 (AFP) - Chelsea captain John Terry put the controversy over his private life to one side by scoring the winner in a 2-1 victory at Burnley as his side went four points clear at the top of the Premier League.
Terry, whose position as England captain was called into question after newspapers published details of his alleged affair with the ex-girlfriend of former Blues team-mate Wayne Bridge, scored eight minutes from time on Saturday when he headed in a corner for only his second goal this season.
|John Terry touches his Chelsea badge as he leaves the pitch after the final whistle in the English Premier League football match between Burnley and Chelsea on January 30, 2010. AFP PHOTO|
"He's a fantastic player. Every game he plays very well," said Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti.
"He's an important player for us. All of Chelsea support him."
Nicolas Anelka had given Chelsea a 27th-minute lead at Turf Moor when the France striker turned in Florent Malouda's cross while, seven minutes later, Terry was booked for a clumsy challenge on Robbie Blake.
Relegation candidates Burnley levelled in the 50th minute when a ball over the top of Alex found Steven Fletcher who beat the defender before shooting past Petr Cech.
Chelsea's victory means they will still be top of the table regardless of the result of Sunday's clash between title rivals Arsenal and Manchester United at the Emirates Stadium.
Earlier, Tottenham stayed fourth with a 1-1 draw at Birmingham.
But Spurs' rivals for a place in next season's Champions League, Liverpool and Aston Villa, both won to keep up the pressure.
Liverpool beat Bolton 2-0 to stay a point adrift of Spurs with Villa, who have a game in hand, two points behind after defeating Fulham by the same scoreline in a match where Gabriel Agbonlahor scored both goals.
At the other end of the table, second from bottom Hull failed to climb out of the relegation zone after a 2-2 draw with Wolves.
Everton made it four league wins from five with a 1-0 victory away to Wigan while Blackburn Rovers and West Ham shared the points in a goalless draw.
Spurs' Jermain Defoe broke the deadlock at St Andrews when he blasted the ball past Joe Hart with 21 minutes left.
But Birmingham rescued a point through Liam Ridgewell's 90th minute equaliser.
"We deserved to win but the goal we gave away was horrendous," said Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp.
At Anfield, Dirk Kuyt put Liverpool ahead eight minutes before half-time.
Liverpool went 2-0 up when Emiliano Insua's 25-yard shot took a huge deflection off Bolton's Kevin Davies for a 70th minute own-goal.
"I am pleased with the result and the second half but not too happy with the first half - but at the end of the day we needed to win and we won," said Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez.
Agbonlahor put Villa in front five minutes before half-time at Craven Cottage when he headed past Fulham's Australia goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer.
And there was still time for Agbonlahor to make it 2-0 ahead of the interval when, in the 44th minute, he curled a shot past Schwarzer from 15 yards.
Villa manager Martin O'Neill said Agbonlahor deserved his double after a frustrating match during the midweek goalless draw with Arsenal.
"Gabriel taking those two goals today were as much about his performance against Arsenal on Wednesday night. He got his deserts today and he was fantastic," said the Villa manager.
At the KC Stadium, former Celtic striker Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink fired Hull into an 11th minute lead with a 20-yard shot.
But Wolves were level four minutes after half-time after a comical own-goal where Hull's Anthony Gardner sliced an unthreatening Ronald Zubar cross over the head of goalkeepeer Boaz Myhill.
However, minutes later Hull were back in front when Stephen Hunt scored from the penalty spot after Zubar jumped into Jozy Altidore only for Matthew Jarvis to draw Wolves level in the 67th minute.
Tim Cahill was once again Everton's star as the Australia midfielder headed in his sixth goal of the season six minutes from time away to Wigan.
Sunday's other top-flight match sees Manchester City looking to bounce back from their League Cup semi-final loss to Manchester United at home to bottom-of-the-table Portsmouth.
Sunderland and Stoke meet on Monday.