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English Premiership

Saha sinks Chelsea

LONDON, February 11 – Louis Saha had a night to remember by scoring both of Everton's goals in a 2-1 win over Premier League leaders Chelsea that threw the title race wide open again on Wednesday.
The Blues were left just a point in front after second-placed champions Manchester United held on for a 1-1 draw away to Aston Villa after playing most of the match a man down after Nani was sent-off.

Elsewhere Abou Diaby revived Arsenal’s title bid with the only goal in a 1-0 victory at home to Liverpool.

At the other end of the table, West Ham and Wolves moved out of the relegation zone with 2-0 and 1-0 wins over Birmingham and Tottenham respectively to drop Lancashire duo Burnley and Bolton into the bottom three.

Saha, whose goals came either side of a missed penalty that would have given him a hat-trick, scored twice after Chelsea had taken the lead against an Everton side who came into this match on the back of a Merseyside derby defeat by Liverpool.

"The lads pride themselves on going in front and staying in front," Chelsea assistant manager Ray Wilkins told Sky Sports. "But we also showed a lot of fighting spirit towards the end.

"The season’s long and I think it is going to go to the wire. It’s a very exciting Premiership this year."

Chelsea went ahead after ‘keeper Petr Cech’s goalkick was flicked on by Didier Drogba and Florent Malouda lashed home a shot from 16 yards to give the visitors a 17th minute lead.

But Everton refused to lie down and equalised through Saha’s header from US international Landon Donovan’s 33rd minute corner after the French striker got in front Terry.

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Saha then saw a penalty, awarded after Ricardo Carvalho brought down Donovan, saved by Cech.

But he scored Everton’s second 15 minutes from time when he again beat Terry, this time to a long ball, before shooting through Cech’s hands.

Arsenal, beaten 2-0 by Chelsea last weekend, bounced back thanks to Diaby’s 72nd minute header from Tomas Rosicky’s cross, to move within six points of the leaders.

"It is a massive result," said Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.

"Nobody can imagine how hard it is to play Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool on the trot without having time to recover.

"To now be only six points behind is great."

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez insisted his side should have been awarded an injury time penalty after Cesc Fabregas appeared to handle the ball while blocking a free-kick from opposing captain Steven Gerrard.

"It was very clear. It was unbelievable to see the replay and wonder why the referee did not give it," Benitez said.

In Birmingham, Villa went ahead in the 19th minute when Carlos Cuellar headed into the top corner.

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But four minutes later United were level when Nani’s cross was volleyed back across goal by Ryan Giggs and went in off Villa’s James Collins for the visitors’ 10th own goal of the season.

However, United found themselves down to 10 men when Nani was sent-off for a two-footed challenge on Stiliyan Petrov.

United manager Sir Alex Ferguson had no complaints about Nani’s dismissal, saying: "It was a red card, he’s gone in double-footed, you can’t do that."

West Ham gave their new owners David Gold and David Sullivan, previously in charge at Birmingham, something to celebrate when they scored on the stroke of half-time through Alessandro Diamante’s superb curling free-kick.

The Hammers doubled their lead at Upton Park in the 67th minute when striker Carlton Cole dived to head home Julien Faubert’s cross.

Wolves did the double over Tottenham with a 1-0 win secured by David Jones’s 27th minute strike.

Blackburn saw off 10-man Hull 1-0 to leave the Tigers a point above the relegation zone after Martin Olsson’s cross was turned into his own net by goalkeeper Boaz Myhill.

Hull’s evening went from bad to worse when George Boateng was red-carded for an aerial challenge with Morten Gamst Pedersen.

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