Kalou’s late goal keeps Chelsea’s title bid alive
Salomon Kalou kept Chelsea’s title challenge alive with the 89th minute winner after his side had cancelled out Tottenham’s opener with a highly-controversial equaliser in the 2-1 victory on Saturday.
Carlo Ancelotti’s team were trailing to Sandro’s stunning first half opener at Stamford Bridge when Spurs goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes allowed Frank Lampard’s shot to slip through his hands.
Referee Andre Marriner awarded a goal on his linesman’s advice even though replays showed Gomes had clawed the ball back just before it completely crossed the line.
There was more controversy as Kalou’s goal, a close range effort that turned home Didier Drogba’s miscued shot, delivered victory with Spurs defenders claiming the Blues striker was in an offside position.
Victory moved Ancelotti’s side to within three points of leaders Manchester United and piled pressure on the leaders ahead of Sunday’s trip to Arsenal.
Spurs, meanwhile, missed out on the chance to close the four-point gap on fourth-placed Manchester City and their chances of qualifying for the Champions League have faded significantly.
Early on, Tottenham striker Roman Pavlyuchenko should have done better when Branislav Ivanovic slipped, but he fired wastefully across Petr Cech’s goal.
At the other end Chelsea forward Fernando Torres was close when his shot was deflected into the side netting two minutes later.
Drogba then came within inches of breaking the deadlock with a dipping free kick that beat Gomes from 30 yards but rebounded to safety off the crossbar.
Gomes would have less fortune later on but by then Sandro had fired the visitors into a 19th minute lead with a spectacular long range shot.
There was little sign of danger when Rafael van der Vaart helped a throw-in into the path of the Brazilian midfielder, who struck a rising drive that beat Cech despite the keeper getting a hand on the ball.
Chelsea responded positively and Gomes was forced to tip Michael Essien’s header over the bar before Torres failed to connect properly with Drogba’s flick on.
But Spurs were defending solidly and looked set to reach half time ahead when Lampard struck a low drive from outside the area straight at Gomes seconds before the break.
The Spurs keeper appeared to have the shot covered, but allowed the ball to squirm though his hands and roll through his legs towards the goal.
Gomes was convinced his desperate reaction was enough to save him from further embarrassment but Marriner awarded a goal after receiving a signal from his assistant.
Gomes’ error had needlessly handed the initiative back to Ancelotti’s side and Drogba quickly made it clear he intended to test the Brazilian at every opportunity after the restart.
A long range shot from the Chelsea striker forced Gomes into an unconvincing block eight minutes after the restart.
And the keeper was lucky not to gift Chelksea a second goal when he failed to hold Drogba’s 40-yard free-kick, allowing the ball to bounce into the path of Kalou who shot over.
Kalou had appeared as a substitute moments earlier when Ancelotti withdrew Torres in the 63rd minute.
The Spaniard’s early threat had fizzled out and Chelsea’s attack needed more urgency as the hosts sought a winning goal.
And Ancelotti believed they should have been handed the opportunity to take control of the game when Marriner turned appeals for a penalty after Younes Kaboul’s last ditch challenge on Florent Malouda.
But Chelsea pressure eventually told in the dying minutes when Kalou struck from close-range after Drogba barged his way through the Spurs defence.
Elsewhere Saturday, Blackburn scored their first victory in three months with a 1-0 win over Bolton that eased the club’s relegation fears.
Rovers’ Swedish international defender Martin Olsson scored the decisive goal at Ewood Park after 20 minutes, lashing in a low shot from 20 yards to beat the outstretched hand of Bolton goalkeeper Adam Bogdan.
In other games, Wigan were denied a priceless victory against Everton, who came from behind to secure a 1-1 draw at the DW Stadium.
Charles N’Zogbia fired Wigan ahead on 21 minutes, curling his shot into the top corner from the from the right of the penalty area.
Everton squandered a chance to equalise towards the end of the half however, when Mikel Arteta missed a penalty but made amends in the second half when Leighton Baines levlled from the spot on 78 minutes.
Blackpool’s hopes of Premier League survival remain on a knife-edge after a gritty 0-0 draw with Stoke at Bloomfield Road.
The hard-earned point left Ian Holloway’s men hovering just above the relegation zone, ahead of 18th placed Wigan on goal difference.
Fulham maintained their recent run of good form at Sunderland, downing the Black Cats 3-0.
The Cottagers went ahead through loan signing Gael Kakuta before Welsh international Simon Davies scored twice in the second half.
Ten-man West Brom came from behind to take the honours in their Midlands derby against Aston Villa, winning 2-1 at the Hawthorns, goals from Peter Odemwingie and Youssouf Mulumbu giving the Baggies the win after Villa had taken the lead through an Abdoulaye Meite own goal.
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