United fail to take advantage of Chelsea slip-up

Chelsea extended their lead at the top of the English Premier League table despite a 3-3 draw with Everton on Saturday after champions Manchester United suffered a shock 1-0 loss at home to Aston Villa.

The results left Chelsea three points in front of second-placed United.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s men kicked off Saturday’s late match knowing Chelsea had already dropped points.

But they were undone when Villa striker Gabriel Agbonlahor headed in a cross from fellow England international Ashley Young in the 21st minute.

United striker Wayne Rooney hit the crossbar and late on visiting goalkeeper Brad Friedel saved from Dimitar Berbatov as Villa, winning at Old Trafford for the first time in 26 years, moved up into third place.

“Second half we deserved something, first half Villa played very well,” United manager Ferguson told ESPN. “We had chances, we just didn’t take any.

“But they [Villa] worked their socks off, you give them full credit for that,” Ferguson added.

Villa boss Martin O’Neill said: “We’ve got a fine set of young players coming in now and they are giving absolutely everything to the game and that’s all I can ask for.

“Just recently, we’ve tightened up a wee bit defensively and that has made a marked improvement.”

Everton went ahead at Stamford Bridge when Louis Saha’s header came off the post and hit Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech for a 12th-minute own goal.

But Didier Drogba, played in by Frank Lampard, levelled for Chelsea in the 18th minute with a shot from the edge of the box.

Fellow forward Nicolas Anelka gave Chelsea, beaten 2-1 by Manchester City last weekend, the lead with a well-taken finish in the 23rd minute.

But Everton fought back when substitute Aiyegbeni Yakubu made it 2-2 on the stroke of half-time.

Ivorian striker Drogba restored Chelsea’s lead by powering in his 18th goal in 20 games in all competitions this season in the 59th minute.

But minutes later Everton were level again when Drogba’s headed clearance hit Saha on the head and looped over Cech.

“We made some mistakes at set-plays,” Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti told Sky Sports. “We lost a game against Aston Villa and then we worked on the set-plays and improved.
Now we have to do the same.”

Everton manager David Moyes added: “To come here and get a draw was terrific. I thought we deserved it for our resilience and endeavour.”

Wolves climbed out of the relegation zone with a 1-0 win away to Tottenham, who missed out on the chance to go third.

Manchester City, reduced to 10 men, came back three times in a 3-3 draw with struggling Bolton while Birmingham beat West Ham 1-0.

Younes Kaboul’s stoppage-time equaliser gave bottom-of-the-table Portsmouth a 1-1 draw away to Sunderland after Darren Bent had put the hosts ahead.

But the French defender’s joy was cut short when he was sent-off for removing his shirt while celebrating the goal, having already been booked.

Elsewhere, Burnley and Fulham drew 1-1, Stoke and Wigan finished all square at 2-2 and Hull and Blackburn shared the points in a goalless draw.

Ivan Klasnic gave relegation-threatened Bolton an 11th-minute lead against Manchester City.

Cash-rich City were struggling until Carlos Tevez drew them level in the 28th minute.

Bolton regained the lead with Gary Cahill’s curling shot two minutes before the interval but there was still time for City’s Micah Richards to make it 2-2 ahead of half-time.

Klasnic scored his second in the 53rd minute strike and things got worse for City when Craig Bellamy was sent-off for diving.

But City equalised when Tevez scored his second goal in the 77th minute.

At White Hart Lane, Wolves clung on to a third-minute lead secured when Kevin Doyle turned in Nenad Milijas’s free-kick.—Sapa-AFP

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