London – Didier Drogba scored his 100th Premier League goal as Chelsea maintained the pressure on Arsenal in the race for fourth place with a 1-0 win over 10-man Stoke City on Saturday.
Drogba bagged his eighth goal of the season after 68 minutes of a tense encounter at Stamford Bridge as Chelsea notched their second victory since last week's sacking of manager Andre Villas-Boas.
The win saw interim manager Roberto Di Matteo's side go level on points with fourth-placed Arsenal, who can restore their three-point lead with victory over Newcastle United on Monday.
Stoke, who were reduced to 10 men following the dismissal of Ricardo Fuller for a stamp on Branislav Ivanovic, slipped to 10th.
With league leaders Manchester City and second-placed Manchester United playing on Sunday, Saturday saw a reduced fixture schedule.
Liverpool's faint hopes of qualification for next season's Champions League suffered another blow as the Merseysiders crashed to a 1-0 defeat at Sunderland.
Nicklas Bendtner scored the winner for the Black Cats on 56 minutes as Liverpool slumped to a second consecutive loss following their defeat against Arsenal at Anfield last weekend.
At the other end of the table, the problems mounted for struggling Queens Park Rangers and Wolverhampton Wanderers, who both suffered defeats that left the two clubs in the relegation zone.
Bolton snatched a dramatic late 2-1 win over QPR as the debate over goal-line technology was reignited by a blunder from match officials.
An 86th-minute winner from substitute Ivan Klasnic bagged a vital three points for Bolton after Djibril Cisse's equaliser looked to have earned a draw for Rangers following Darren Pratley's opener.
But the main talking point from an entertaining game was a disallowed goal from QPR centre-back Clint Hill after 20 minutes.
Replays showed Hill's powerful header had clearly crossed the goal-line yet despite QPR protests, neither the linesman nor referee Martin Atkinson were inclined to give the goal and Bolton escaped.
Fuming Rangers coach Mark Hughes said the incident was further proof of the need for goal-line technology, which world governing body Fifa have said they hope to introduce by the end of this year.
“I'm really disappointed in the performance of the officials,” Hughes told the BBC. “The referee was let down by his assistants. Clearly the ball was over the line. The linesman is there to see that – that is what his job is.
“Laughably the FA have come out almost immediately and said they're in favour of goalline technology.
“What we're finding is that key moments and key decisions in games are going against us. Please just give us an opportunity to play the game and show how well we can play. And do it on our own merits.
Bolton manager Owen Coyle admitted his side had been the beneficiaries of a crucial decision.
“There's no doubt we got a big break today, but we scored good goals. With 15 minutes to go, we threw on another striker and scored a terrific goal,” Coyle said. “It's a valuable three points, there's no doubt about it.
“Nobody's a bigger advocate than myself for goalline technology. I can totally understand how Mark Hughes will be frustrated.”
Meanwhile, Wolves were sent spinning to a 2-0 defeat at home to Blackburn Rovers after two goals from Canadian youngster David Hoilett.
Hoilett opened the scoring on 43 minutes, lashing in from near the penalty spot after Wolves failed to clear Morten Gamst Pedersen's long throw.
Hoilett doubled Rovers' lead in the 69th minute, gathering the ball in midfield before unleashing a long-range shot to beat Wayne Hennessey.
The win – Rovers' first clean sheet of the season – saw the Lancashire club go three points clear of the relegation zone.
In the other match on Saturday, Aston Villa scrambled an injury-time winner from Austrian youngster Andreas Weimann to score a precious 1-0 win over Fulham at Villa Park.
The late kick-off sees Everton face Tottenham Hotspur at Goodison Park. – Sapa-AFP