Chelsea moves 2 points clear of Manchester City at top of English Premier League

By: | Published: January 11, 2015 2:36 PM

Chelsea overcame a difficult start to beat Newcastle 2-0 at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, moving two points clear of Manchester City at the top...

Chelsea overcame a difficult start to beat Newcastle 2-0 at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, moving two points clear of Manchester City at the top of the Premier League after Manuel Pellegrini’s side was held to a 1-1 draw at Everton.

Oscar led Jose Mourinho’s side to victory, putting it ahead in the 43rd minute against the run of play after a quickly worked corner by Willian and Branislav Ivanovic.

Oscar then set up Diego Costa’s second-half goal by controlling Eden Hazard’s chipped pass and flicking it into the path of the onrushing Costa, all in one movement, before the striker slotted in his 15th goal of the season to make the game safe.

But Newcastle began the game in control, and Chelsea had goalkeeper Petr Cech to thank for keeping out a fierce drive by Remy Cabella. Cech was standing in for regular stopper Thibaut Courtois, who dropped to the substitute’s bench with a finger injury.

”In the first half, they caused us some problems but (it was) a much improved performance in the second half and in the end we were good value for a 2-0 win,” Chelsea assistant manager Steve Holland said. ”Jose was quite clear in what he wanted the team to do at halftime. We had to show more personality with and without the ball.”

At Goodison Park, City took the lead through Fernandinho’s fortuitous strike in the 74th, but Steven Naismith headed an equalizer for Everton four minutes later to end its slide of four straight defeats.

City introduced Sergio Aguero in the 67th for his first appearance since sustaining a knee injury in December, but the Argentina striker was unable to find a winning goal for the Premier League champions.

”If you said at the beginning you are going to draw at Everton away, maybe it is not so bad,” City manager Pellegrini said. ”Everton grew in the second half and it was a very close game in the last 35 minutes. We had a lot of chances but were maybe missing the last pass.”

Earlier Saturday, Liverpool won 1-0 against 10-man Sunderland thanks to Lazar Markovic’s first-half strike. Brendan Rodgers’ side produced an impressive first-half display but Sunderland went close to equalizing when Adam Johnson hit the crossbar from long range in the 52nd, three minutes after Sunderland’s Liam Bridcutt had been sent off for two yellow cards.

”Their sending-off probably threw us a little bit more than them for about 10 minutes,” Rodgers said. ”But once we regained the ball, started to move and get good positions on the field to pass it, we started to create chances again.”

Liverpool is only four points away from the top four, though 17 points behind Chelsea.

Elsewhere, Swansea fought back to earn a point at home to West Ham. Andy Carroll put the London club ahead with his fourth goal of the season, but an own goal from Mark Noble brought Swansea level.

West Bromwich Albion took all three points in its first Premier League game under new manager Tony Pulis with a 1-0 triumph against Hull, courtesy of a strike in the 78th from Saido Berahino.

Burnley consigned Queens Park Rangers to its 10th straight league defeat away from home with a 2-1 win. QPR replaced Burnley in the bottom three of the league standings.

Last-place club Leicester, meanwhile, continued its resurgence with a 1-0 victory at home to Aston Villa.

Paul Konchesky put Leicester ahead on the stroke of halftime, before a clash in the final minutes between Leicester’s Matty James and Villa’s Ciaran Clark resulted in both players being shown red cards.

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