LONDON: Roberto Di Matteo extended his 100pc record as caretaker manager – albeit after only two games – as Chelsea maintained their pressure on the top four by beating Stoke 1:0 at Stamford Bridge. They had won away to second division Birmingham in an FA Cup replay in midweek.
Didier Drogba escaped Robert Huth to score his 100th Premier League goal for the winner in the 68th minute. This was an early birthday present on the eve of the Ivorian’s 34th birthday. He is the first African player to reach a century of goals in the Premier League.
Stoke were reduced to 10 men by a first-half red card for Ricardo Fuller for a stamp on Brane Ivanovic who was unable to play the second half.
Chelsea could have won by more in their first league match since Andre Villas-Boas was sacked last Sunday. But they hit the bar twice in the first half and found Huth in resolute form, winning everything in the air.
Tottenham’s grip on third place weakened still further after they dominated much of the 90 minutes against Everton but lost 1-0 as the Toffees marked David Moyes’s 10th anniversary as manager with a victory.
Liverpool served up another poor performance as the new League Cup holders lost a third successive league game, this time at Sunderland after defeats by Manchester United and Arsenal. They had not lost three in a row like that since Gerard Houllier was managed in October 2003.
Keeper Pepe Reina hates the Stadium of Light. In 2009 he was beaten when the ball ricocheted off a beach ball which had blown across this pitch. This time a shot from Frazier Campbell hit a post, hit Reina on the head and dropped for Nicklas Bendtner to score.
Bolton increased their survival hopes with a controversial 2-1 win at home to Queens Park Rangers. Ivan Klasnic scored the vital winner late on to end a run of four straight defeats for Owen Coyle’s men, but the major talking point was the failure of referee Martin Atkinson and his officials to award a first-half goal to QPR’s Clint Hill, whose header from a corner was clearly over the goal-line before Bolton goalkeeper Adam Bogdan clawed it out.
The hosts took the lead instead through Darren Pratley, with Djibril Cisse’s strike early in the second half looking as though it would earn QPR a point until Klasnic’s late heroics, the Croatian teed up by a wonderful pass from Arsenal loanee Ryo Miyaichi.
Later the Football Association issued a statement underlining its hope to see goal-line technology introduced as soon as possible.
“Martin Atkinson was completely let down by his assistants,” said QPR manager Mark Hughes.
Blackburn kept themselves out of the bottom three with a 2-0 win at fellow strugglers Wolves. Junior Hoilett scored the first goal in the 43rd minute with an acrobatic strike after Wolves, who have now won only one of their last 14 league games, failed to clear a long throw-in. The Canadian added a second for Rovers in the 69th minute as Wolves finished the day second-bottom of the table.
Aston Villa ended a five-match winless run as Andreas Weimann’s injury-time goal was enough to beat in-form Fulham. Cottagers goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer failed to hold a shot by Gary Gardner from outside the box and Weimann reacted quickest to scramble the ball home and end Fulham’s run of three straight wins.