Chelsea FC took advantage of the inactivity of the top three English Premiership sides to move into third place in the table thanks to a 3-1 win at Birmingham City FC.
Chelsea began knowing that a win would move them above Newcastle United FC, and took the lead on the stroke of half-time through veteran Italian striker Gianfranco Zola.
Chelsea in command
Eidur Gudjohnsen’s header four minutes into the second period put Chelsea in complete control, and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink sealed the win with a 69th-minute penalty, converting after he had been fouled by Birmingham’s Robbie Savage. Savage then got a late consolation for Birmingham from the penalty spot.
On Sunday, leaders Arsenal FC visit Newcastle, while Manchester United FC are at home to Manchester City FC in the derby.
Meanwhile, Everton FC missed the chance to close the gap on the top teams, losing 2-1 at Charlton Athletic FC, who took the lead through Radostin Kishishev. Brian McBride equalised for Everton in the 69th minute, but Kevin Lisbie’s late winner secured all three points for the home side.
Liverpool frustrated again
Earlier, Liverpool FC’s poor run of form continued as they were held to a 1-1 draw at home by Middlesbrough FC. Middlesbrough, who have struggled to score away from home this season, took the lead through a superb free-kick from Cameroonian international midfield player Geremi, but John Arne Riise salvaged a point for the home side, equalising with 16 minutes remaining.
Southampton FC lost 1-0 at Blackburn Rovers FC, whose win was sealed by midfield player David Thomson’s fine goal after 26 minutes.
Bottom side Sunderland AFC continue to struggle as they slipped to a 4-1 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur FC. The home side went ahead through Gustavo Poyet after 15 minutes, but Sunderland’s Kevin Phillips equalised ten minutes later. However, Gary Doherty restored Tottenham’s lead just before half-time, and second-half goals from Simon Davies and Teddy Sheringham sealed all three points for Glenn Hoddle’s side.
West Ham in trouble
Elsewhere, West Ham United FC also lost, going down 1-0 at Leeds United AFC. Seth Johnson’s 19th-minute deflected shot separating the two sides, while West Ham striker Frédéric Kanouté was sent off midway through the second period.
Struggling sides Bolton Wanderers FC and West Bromwich Albion drew 1-1, the away side going in front through Henrik Pedersen’s 18th-minute goal. But West Brome fought hard and deservedly equalised with a last-gasp goal from substitute Andy Johnson.
Fulham FC secured a crucial win, despite going behind to Aston Villa FC after only three minutes as Gareth Barry gave the away side the lead. A Steed Malbranque penalty brought Fulham level eleven minutes later, and Jon Harley’s goal nine minutes before half-time proved enough for the home team.
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