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Festive cheer for leaders Chelsea

Published: Sunday 26 December 2004, 19.51CET
Chelsea FC maintained their lead at the top of the English Premiership by beating Aston Villa FC. features

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Published: Sunday 26 December 2004, 19.51CET

Festive cheer for leaders Chelsea

Chelsea FC maintained their lead at the top of the English Premiership by beating Aston Villa FC.
By Simon Hart

Chelsea FC maintained a five-point advantage at the summit of the English Premiership as all of the top four sides opened the festive period with victories.

Duff winner
Chelsea secured an eighth win in ten home matches this season, beating Aston Villa FC 1-0 through Damien Duff's 30th-minute goal. José Mourinho's side have 46 points from 19 games, five ahead of Arsenal FC who were 2-0 winners against Fulham FC at Highbury. Arsène Wenger's side went ahead through a Thierry Henry goal after 12 minutes and Robert Pires made sure of the three points when he drilled in the second with 19 minutes remaining.

Everton head on
Everton FC stayed in third place with a 2-1 home victory over Manchester City FC. Headed goals from Everton's Tim Cahill and Marcus Bent sandwiched a Robbie Fowler effort as they extended their unbeaten run to seven matches. City finished the match with ten men after substitute Christian Negouai's late dismissal.

Giggs strike
A superb volleyed goal from Ryan Giggs after ten minutes gave Manchester United FC the perfect start against Bolton Wanderers FC but Old Trafford had to wait until the 89th minute for United's second goal, Paul Scholes netting his seventh Premiership strike of the season. United have 37 points, three fewer than Everton.

Liverpool hit five
Sixth-placed Liverpool FC routed the bottom team, West Bromwich Albion FC, 5-0 at The Hawthorns. John Arne Riise opened the scoring on 17 minutes and West Brom's hopes were dented further shortly before the break by Cosmin Contra's dismissal for handling Antonio Núñez's goalbound header. Although Milan Baroš spurned the resulting penalty, Florent Sinama Pongolle, Steven Gerrard, Riise again and Luis García were all on target in the second half.

Tottenham climb
Elsewhere, goals from Robbie Keane and Michael Brown secured a fifth straight win for Tottenham Hotspur FC, 2-0 at Norwich City FC. Birmingham City are finding some form too, a 2-0 success against Middlesbrough FC their third in a row. Clinton Morrison and Emile Heskey got the goals.

Souness denied
Graeme Souness saw his Newcastle United FC side earn a 2-2 draw on his return to former club Blackburn Rovers FC. Newcastle led twice, through Kieron Dyer and Laurent Robert, but goals from Paul Dickov and Andy Todd mean the Magpies have won just once in nine Premiership matches.

Zajec celebrates
Velimir Zajec enjoyed a winning start as Portsmouth FC manager, Linvoy Primus scoring the only goal at Crystal Palace FC. Harry Redknapp is still waiting to celebrate a victory as Southampton FC manager, however, after a goalless home draw with Charlton Athletic FC.

Last updated: 27/12/04 18.20CET


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