Chelsea cut Manchester United’s advantage atop the Premier League to three points on Saturday with a 1-0 win at Charlton.
Frank Lampard scored with a long-range shot to take defending champion Chelsea to 57 points, although Manchester United may restore the gap to six when it plays at Tottenham on Sunday.
”We fought really hard for this,” Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said. ”I just feel that we had moments where we could have killed the game and we did not.
”But this makes it more comfortable in terms of being seven points away from Liverpool.”
Chelsea moved seven points clear of third-place Liverpool, which was held to a 0-0 draw by Everton in the 205th match between the city rivals.
In other matches on Saturday, it was: Aston Villa 1, West Ham 0; Blackburn 2, Sheffield United 1; Fulham 2, Newcastle 1; Manchester City 0, Reading 2; Watford 0, Bolton 1; Wigan 1, Portsmouth 0.
Thierry Henry scored an equaliser as 10-man Arsenal rallied to a 1-1 draw with Middlesbrough. The Gunners stayed in fourth place with 46 points, two more than fifth-place Bolton.
Lampard scored his eighth goal in as many matches in the 18th minute after taking a cross from Andriy Shevchenko, who had earlier been denied a goal by Charlton goalkeeper Scott Carson.
Charlton rarely troubled Chelsea until goalkeeper Petr Cech twice saved late on to deny Amady Faye. Charlton is in 19th place.
Chelsea captain John Terry came on as an 88th-minute substitute for his first action in seven weeks after recovering from a back problem.
”We need JT as a player and as a person,” Mourinho said. ”I hope this was the last game [midfielder] Michael Essien played as a central defender.”
Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard was busy at Anfield, blocking a seventh-minute shot from Peter Crouch with his feet and saving from Dirk Kuyt.
Xabi Alonso put a dipping shot just over the bar and captain Steven Gerrard went close with a 20m free kick.
Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina saved from striker Andrew Johnson, who was playing for the first time in two weeks after recovering from an ankle injury, but it was Liverpool doing most of the attacking in an attempt to avenge September’s 3-0 loss at Everton.
”Playing against a small team it is not always easy when they have nine men behind the ball,” Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez said. ”One team wanted to win while one team came not to lose.”
Everton manager David Moyes, whose side stayed in eighth, wasn’t impressed with the ”small team” remark.
”It is a massive gulf in the amount of money they have spent on their squad and us on ours,” Moyes said. ”We are looking to bridge that gap but we have taken four points from them this season, so we must be doing something right.”
Henry scored in the 77th at the Riverside Stadium, 15 minutes after teammate Philippe Senderos had been sent off for a foul on Ayegbeni Yakubu. That mistake gave Boro a penalty kick and the Nigerian striker took it to give his team the lead.
”We were 1-0 down with 10 men and we still managed to come back and I feel 11 against 11, we would have won this game,” Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said.
Leroy Lita scored twice in the last 11 minutes to give Reading victory at Manchester City and take his season goal tally to 13.
Reading moved up to sixth place in its first Premier League season, but another new club, Watford, is still struggling.
Watford is last with 15 points from 25 games after losing 1-0 at home to Bolton. Nicolas Anelka scored in 63rd minute.
”If we play like that we will go down, simple as that,” Watford coach Adrian Boothroyd said. ”It was a bad game and we contributed to that enormously.”
West Ham still rounds out the relegation zone in 18th place after its winless streak stretched to eight games. Villa striker John Carew scored in the 36th to keep the Hammers on 20 points, the same as Charlton and five fewer than 17th-place Wigan.
Wigan’s 1-0 win over Portsmouth improved its chances of staying up and ended a nine-match losing streak.
”We are in a fight,” Wigan manager Paul Jewell said. ”There’s no doubt about it.”
Morten Gamst Pedersen scored twice for Blackburn in a 2-1 win over Sheffield United. Pedersen’s last-minute winner came two minutes after teammate Stephen Warnock was sent off in the 88th minute for a second yellow card.
Fulham beat Newcastle through goals from Heidar Helguson and Brian McBride, while Obafemi Martins scored in injury time for the visitor.
Derby has a six-point lead at the top of the League Championship standings after a 1-0 win at Southampton. Second-place Preston beat Sheffield Wednesday 3-1, while West Bromwich Albion won 1-0 at Hull.
Derby has 62 points, followed by Preston with 56 and West Brom with 55. – Sapa-AP