Blues back on track
By Paul Higham. Last Updated: 12/02/05 2:40pm
Chelsea got their title charge back on track with a slender 1-0 win over ten-man Everton at Goodison Park on Saturday.
With Manchester United facing a tough derby against City on Sunday, Jose Mourinho's side just about managed to open up a 12-point gap by grinding out a tough win on Merseyside.
James Beattie's moment of madness after just eight minutes might have cost The Toffees the points, but their hard work nearly earned them a draw but for Eidur Gudjohnsen's second half strike that proved to be the difference between the two sides.
The game sprung into life after just eight minutes had been played when Beattie inexplicably got himself sent off for a head-butt on Gallas.
The former Southampton man was chasing a long ball down the left when tangling with Gallas, but for some reason he charged head-first into the back of the Frenchman's head - resulting in an instant red card from Mike Riley.
Chelsea almost made an immediate impact on the ten-man hosts, as Eidur Gudjohnsen flashed a cross right along the face of goal, before Joe Cole smacked his shot wide.
Damien Duff produced a fine cross from the left on 25 minutes, but Gudjohnsen's near-post flick hit Nigel Martyn's thigh and went out for a corner.
It was constant pressure from Chelsea but they struggled to make any serious chances against a resolute Everton rear-guard, with the dodgy Goodison Park surface not enough of an excuse for the league leaders.
Cole embarked on a mazy run in off the left flank a minute before the break, but after making good progress his shot was fired straight at Martyn.
Duff's deflected shot early in the second half almost produced a goal, but Gudjohnsen's close-range flick was well blocked by a sprawling Martyn.
Martyn again came to Everton's rescue as he produced another good save, this time denying Frank Lampard as the England midfield shot from the edge of the box.
Cole blazed just inches over on 56 minutes after a corner was allowed to find its way to the far post.
After huffing and puffing, Chelsea eventually got the breakthrough on 69 minutes, when Gudjohnsen was on hand to stab home from close range.
Paulo Ferreira raced down the right before crossing for Gallas, who had stayed forward, and the Frenchman stuck out a leg to flick the ball onto the bar - with the rebound falling perfectly for Gudjohnsen to put the visitors ahead.
Duff almost got through on goal three minutes later from a superb Lampard ball, but Alessandro Pistone slid in with a great last-ditch challenge to deny the Irishman.
Lee Carsley flicked a dangerous header goalwards with nine minutes left, but a grateful Petr Cech gathered the ball at his feet.
Chelsea's back-line endured a nervy moment five minutes from the end, as Cech had to punch clear under pressure from substitute Duncan Ferguson after a poor defensive header.
Everton pumped the ball into the box in the closing stages, but Mourinho's men held out to claim a vital three points to get their title chase back on track.
|1||Shots on target ( Inc Goals )||7|
|1||Shots off Target (inc woodwork)||13|
|16||Total Fouls Conceded||10|
|33 %||Possession||67 %|
Barclays Premier League
|9||West Ham United||27||39|
|13||West Bromwich Albion||27||30|
|17||Queens Park Rangers||26||22|