Chelsea needed an 89th-minute goal to secure victory over Everton and maintain their seven-point lead at the top of the Premier League.
It looked as though Man City were set to cut the lead as they put in a fine second-half display, but Chelsea scored their winner moments after Everton’s Gareth Barry was sent off for a second bookable offence.
Willian struck the goal as Chelsea beat Everton 1-0 but the Premier League leaders could face disciplinary action once more after Branislav Ivanovic appeared to headbutt James McCarthy.
The flashpoint occurred after Nemanja Matic thought he had scored four minutes from time, only for the deflected strike to be ruled out for offside against Ivanovic, with the ball deflecting off the Serbia international’s shoulder and past Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard.
Tempers flared when Gareth Barry then tripped Willian, earning a second yellow card, and Ivanovic motioned his head towards McCarthy in the resulting fracas.
The Everton substitute was booked for his part in the melee, but Ivanovic avoided censure from referee Jonathan Moss and could face retrospective action from the Football Association.
— World Soccer Talk (@worldsoccertalk) February 12, 2015
There was still time for Willian to net after Howard was unconvincing in clearing a cross as Chelsea remained seven points clear of Manchester City.
But Chelsea had Petr Cech to thank for the win, too, as he had to show his enduring quality after being selected ahead of Thibaut Courtois. He twice saved from Romelu Lukaku, the second time when the former Chelsea striker was four yards out.
Sergio Aguero and Manchester City rediscovered their touch as the champions turned on the style in the second half to win 4-1 at Stoke City.
Aguero struck twice as City won for the first time in five Premier League games to keep some pressure on Chelsea.
Aguero’s first strike in six games since returning from injury was cancelled out by Peter Crouch before the break but he grabbed a second from the penalty spot after James Milner had put City back ahead. Samir Nasri claimed the fourth with a fine strike 14 minutes from time.
Manchester United cut out the long-ball tactics but they still had to battle their way to a 3-1 win over Burnley at Old Trafford.
Chris Smalling scored 22 seconds after his introduction in place of the injured Phil Jones to put United ahead and the substitute put United 2-1 up after Danny Ings’ spectacular diving header.
Burnley, whose team cost a fraction of Louis van Gaal’s star-laden XI, had United on the ropes at times in the first half and comedy defending from Smalling and Ander Herrera should have resulted in an equaliser, but David de Gea saved the Red Devils once again.
Finally, Robin van Persie put the game to bed with an 82nd-minute penalty after Angel Di Maria was fouled in the box.
Adrian will have no doubt breathed a sigh of relief when the final whistle sounded at St Mary’s after West Ham managed to hold Southampton to a 0-0 draw despite his moment of madness.
The match was drifting until the Hammers goalkeeper attempted to turn away from Sadio Mane, only to be caught out and handle outside the box as he attempted to make amends.
It led to the Spanish goalkeeper receiving a straight red card and his team having to withstand a barrage of attacks for the best part of 30 minutes — a feat Sam Allardyce’s men impressively managed, defending manfully to hold Saints.
Brown Ideye and Saido Berahino eased West Bromwich Albion’s relegation worries as the Baggies cruised to a 2-0 win over Swansea.
Revitalised Ideye — the Baggies’ 10 million-pound record signing — was on the verge of joining Qatari side Al Gharafa on deadline day for just five million euros but has now doubled his tally for the season in his last two games.
He netted his fourth goal of the campaign against Swansea before Berahino bagged his 15th to lift the Baggies up to 14th and four points clear of the drop zone.
Neither Alan Pardew nor the travelling Newcastle United support could boast victory in their reunion battle as Crystal Palace came from behind to seal a 1-1 draw at Selhurst Park.
The Palace boss brought to an end an often-turbulent five-year spell at St James’ Park to take over in South London at the turn of the year and their first meeting since then ended in stalemate.
Pardew’s Eagles have made a habit out of falling behind, and did so again to Papiss Cisse, but again showed their resilient nature as Fraizer Campbell came off the bench to earn a well-deserved share of the spoils for Palace.
It could have been an even sweeter reunion for Pardew had Brede Hangeland’s late header not been tipped behind by Tim Krul, with Newcastle offering very little in the way of their own attempts to win the game.
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