Hope still floats for Chelsea

Jan 21, 2013, 08:57 IST | AFP

Blues win only their second match at home � when they beat Arsenal 2-1 � under embattled interim manager Rafael Benitez

Chelsea won at home for only the second time in the Premier League under interim manager Rafael Benitez as they held off London rivals Arsenal 2-1 at a snowy Stamford Bridge yesterday.

Juan Mata gave Chelsea a sixth minute lead before Frank Lampard, whose Chelsea future remains uncertain, made it 2-0 from the penalty spot 10 minutes later after Ramires was brought down by Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny.

Frank Lampard celebrates after scoring Chelsea’s second goal at Stamford Bridge yesterday. Pic/Getty Images

But Theo Walcott, fresh from signing a new Arsenal contract in midweek, brought the Gunners back into the match in the 58th minute when he outpaced Branislav Ivanovic and then shot powerfully past Petr Cech.

Arsenal pressed for an equaliser but European champions Chelsea clung on to all three points. This result saw Chelsea, booed off along with manager Rafael Benitez after squandering a 2-0 lead in a 2-2 draw at home to Southampton in midweek, remain third and Arsenal, who have won only one of their last five matches, stay sixth. “It was very hard, the second 45 minutes,” Mata told Sky Sports. “We were defending until the last minute. We knew that Arsenal never give up and even winning 2-0 might not have been enough. But in the end it was,” he added.

United thwarted
Later, Clint Dempsey’s equaliser in the final minute of stoppage-time denied Premier League leaders Manchester United a win as Tottenham Hotspur came from behind to force a 1-1 draw at White Hart Lane. The result meant United’s advantage at the top of the table over second-placed reigning champions Manchester City was reduced to five points after they had started the weekend seven in front of their local rivals.

It looked as if Robin van Persie’s 18th league goal of the season, a 25th minute header from Tom Cleverley's cross, was going to secure all three points for United in a fixture that survived a pre-match pitch inspection. But in the third and final minute of stoppage time at the end of the match, Spurs pumped the ball forward and United States striker Dempsey got on the end of Aaron Lennon's cross to rescue a point for the fourth-placed hosts, now just four points adrift of Chelsea.

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