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Terry grabs late Chelsea winner

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Chelsea's captain John Terry, left, jumps to control the ball to go on and score against Everton during an English Premier League soccer match at the Stamford Bridge. Picture: Lefteris Pitarakis

London - John Terry's stoppage-time goal handed Chelsea a crucial 1-0 victory against Everton to cement their lead at the top of the Premier League on Saturday.

After 90 minutes of toil but little creativity from Jose Mourinho's side, it was the old combination of Terry and Frank Lampard that made the breakthrough with just two minutes of stoppage-time remaining when the former steered in the latter's free kick from close-range.

Terry's heroics on his return from a hip injury were harsh on Everton, who had their share of possession and chances at Stamford Bridge but still left empty-handed.

Chelsea's win moved them four points clear of second placed Arsenal, who can close the gap with a victory over Sunderland later on Saturday.

Roberto Martinez had lost on all four of his previous Premier League trips to Stamford Bridge and the Everton manager's hopes of breaking that hoodoo were not helped when Ivory Coast striker Lacina Traore suffered a hamstring injury in the warm-up.

His place in attack was taken by Steven Naismith but there was no place in the starting line-up for Ross Barkley.

With a trip to face Didier Drogba's Galatasaray in the Champions League on Wednesday, Mourinho handed Lampard a start alongside Nemanja Matic in midfield and welcomed back Terry for his first appearance since the victory over Manchester City at the start of the month.

Chelsea were beaten 1-0 at Goodison Park back in September but they knew three points would ensure they stayed top of the table regardless of results elsewhere.

That seemed the likely outcome in the fourth minute when some great interplay between Eden Hazard and Willian saw the latter cut infield and shoot wide.

However, Everton boasted the league's second best defensive record going into the game and Chelsea found it hard to break the down.

They could even have taken the lead in the 12th minute when Leon Osman latched onto a clever knock back from Naismith but Petr Cech was equal to his shot.

In response, all Chelsea could muster was a weak shot from Cesar Azpilicueta that was easily saved by Tim Howard just before the half-hour mark.

Yet Samuel Eto'o could have put the Blues in front 10 minute before the break when he wriggled free in the box and saw his shot well saved by Howard.

Kevin Mirallas was guilty of wasting another great chance for Everton on the stroke of half-time when he badly miscued his shot from the edge of the box.

A stony-faced Mourinho was out early for the second period and he withdrew Oscar for Ramires in an attempt to find a way through Everton's defence.

The tactical change saw Hazard move infield and it almost paid dividends straight away as the Belgian played in Lampard, who saw his shot saved by Howard before Distin scrambled away his follow up.

Mirallas then almost inadvertently gave Everton the lead when a tiny deflection off his heel from Osman's shot forced Cech into a reaction save.

Howard got down well to save from Hazard's powerful strike before pulling off another superb stop to deny Branislav Ivanovic on the follow up.

But despite Chelsea's possession, the Spaniard wasted both opportunities that fell his way, with one eight minutes from time sailing high and wide into the crowd behind the goal.

Everton still looked dangerous on the break and Barkley almost fashioned a chance for himself with five minutes left on the clock only for Ivanovic to intervene.

Ramires flashed a shot just wide of the post and that looked like being the last chance until Terry finally broke the deadlock in the closing seconds. - Sapa-AFP


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