Essien Keeps Blues In Hunt  (Sky Sports)

Everton 0 Chelsea 1

Michael EssienChelsea kept alive their title hopes with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Everton at Goodison Park.

Michael Essien's goal four minutes before the break proved to be enough to give Avram Grant's men the points.

The midfielder, who scored in Monday's draw with Wigan, repeated the trick with a clinical finish over Tim Howard to maintain Chelsea's pursuit of leaders Manchester United.

The win closes the gap on United to two points, while Everton remain five points behind Liverpool in the battle to finish in fourth spot.

Chelsea started with purpose and possession. It took 20 minutes for Everton to even get into the visitors' box, and that was from a corner.

Chelsea showed movement and passing that Everton found it hard to cope with. Twice in the opening spell Wright-Phillips had chances, with one charged down and the other curled over.

But Everton had the first real chance when Manuel Fernandes saw a stinging free-kick palmed away by Petr Cech - the ball bouncing up alarmingly in front of the goalkeeper.

On the half-hour, Everton were thwarted by a fine saving tackle from Essien, after Joleon Lescott had found Andrew Johnson on the penalty spot with time to work.

Wright-Phillips wasted a glorious chance when Salomon Kalou threaded a superb ball into the box for the winger to run onto.

Wright-Phillips needed to shoot first time but instead tried to drag the ball round Tim Howard, and the chance was lost.


Five minutes from the break, Chelsea made the decisive breakthrough.

Neat passing involving Kalou, Essien and Wright-Phillips ended with the ball deflecting off Phil Jagielka straight into the path of the Ghanaian - who lifted the ball into the top corner with clinical ease.

The pattern changed little after the break, with Everton trying their best but meeting stern resistence from John Terry and Carvalho.

Everton at last made an impression and Fernandes produced a stunning, dipping free-kick which missed the far post by a coat of paint, With the hosts daring to venture forward, the gaps were there for Joe Cole and Wright-Phillips to exploit.

Essien fired a dipping drive just over before Malouda replaced Joe Cole after 76 minutes.

Chelsea sent on Claude Makelele for Wright-Phillips with 10 minutes left - giving Everton another midfield obstacle to negotiate.

Slowly the life was squeezed out of the hosts, with Yakubu Aiyegbeni getting precious little out of Terry as the visitors clinically ran down the clock.


Everton  Howard, Hibbert, Yobo, Jagielka, Lescott, Neville, Carsley, Fernandes, Pienaar (Anichebe 63), Johnson (Gravesen 62), Yakubu
Subs Not Used Wessels, Baines, Rodwell

Chelsea  Cech, Ferreira, Carvalho, Terry, A. Cole, Wright-Phillips (Makelele 81), Mikel, Essien, J. Cole (Malouda 76), Anelka, Kalou
Subs Not Used  Hilario, Shevchenko, Alex
Booked  Carvalho, Ferreira
Essien 41

Attendance 37,112

M. Atkinson

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