Chelsea boost top-four hopes as Tottenham are held
By Ben James Apr 7, 2012, 17:10 GMT
London - Juan Mata was the hero as Chelsea boosted their hopes of a top-four spot in the Premier League with a last-gasp 2-1 win over relegation-threatened Wigan Athletic on Saturday.
The midfielder scored in injury time to lift his side level on points with Newcastle United in fifth place.
Third-placed Tottenham Hotspur were held 0-0 at Sunderland, leaving them one point clear of Arsenal, who play second-placed Manchester City on Sunday.
Chelsea and Newcastle are now just two points behind Arsenal while the bottom three all lost, leaving Wolves still six points adrift with six games remaining.
Mohamed Diane had equalized Branislav Ivanovic's goal for Chelsea in the second half but after Fernando Torres's brilliant volley rebounded off the post, Mata was there to slot home the winner.
Chelsea's opening goal had more than a suspicion of offside and Chelsea interim manager Roberto Di Matteo admitted: 'I think they (Wigan) were unlucky.
'I haven't seen a replay of our first goal so I can't really comment. I saw them complaining but I would like to see it again before I comment.
'But the result shows we have great spirit. The result keeps us alive and puts the pressure on those who are above us.'
Mata, who was one of Chelsea's best players throughout the match, said the win was vital to maintain their momentum.
'We fought until the last minute for the three points, having a lot of chances to score,' he said.
'We got a little lucky in the last minute and the points are important for us. Chelsea never give up and today we did it. Next week is very important for us, with FA Cup and Champions League games and we are confident.'
At the Stadium of Light, Tottenham dominated possession but the match was low on clear-cut chances, with Rafael van der Vaart going closest for the visitors on a couple of occasions.
Both sides had appeals for penalties for handball rejected by the referee and in the end settled for a point, lifting Sunderland to within a point of Liverpool.
'It's difficult when teams don't come out so there isn't a lot of space for us to get in behind them,' Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp said. 'Having said that I did think we had two or three good chances.
'I came in at half-time and felt it was a game I would be disappointed if we didn't win, but a point is a point after two tough away games in the last week or so.'
Blackburn's survival hopes took another blow as they were thumped 3-0 at West Bromwich Albion, while Bolton are just one point above the relegation zone after losing 3-0 at home to Fulham.
'We certainly didn't envisage that performance,' Bolton manager Owen Coyle said. 'Goals change games and Clint Dempsey has hit a 35-yard free-kick then we gave away a soft goal.
'We have not done ourselves justice today and we'll have to take our medicine and take the criticism. It is certainly disappointing but we have to pick ourselves up.'
Liverpool's poor run continued with a 1-1 home draw against Aston Villa, and Norwich drew 2-2 with Everton, who remain one place better off than their Merseyside rivals.
Stoke City saw off Wolves 2-1 in the day's late match, with Peter Crouch scoring the winner on the hour mark.
Manchester United, five points clear at the top, play Queens Park Rangers on Sunday.
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