Blues Hold On To Beat Everton Yet Again (Sky Sports)
Everton 1 Chelsea 3
Adrian Sherling reporting
Chelsea extended their unbeaten run to 10 games as they beat Everton for the second time in four days at Goodison Park.
After conceding two early goals, both due to dire defending and despite a Gary Naysmith strike and ferocious pressure in the final 20 minutes, the Toffees simply could not find the all-important leveler.
Kevin Campbell saw one effort cleared off the line and another hit the bar, while Carlo Cudicini made wonderful stops from Thomas Gravesen and substitute Wayne Rooney in the a barn-storming last few minutes as Chelsea moved second in the Premiership.
There was still time for referee Eddie Wolstenholme to stamp his mark on the game, showing David Unsworth a red card despite protestations from both sides that he had done nothing wrong and Jesper Gronkjaer wrapped up the points in the dying seconds with a tap-in.
In the end, the two early Everton gaffes proved crucial, gifting Chelsea the lead after just five minutes. Graeme Le Saux's mis-hit corner should have been easily cut out by Thomas Gravesen at the near-post. Yet the Dane took his eye off the ball, it struck his hand and bounced across goal, leaving Stanic with the easiest of headers from close-range to put his side ahead.
Richard Wright, showing more of the form that saw his short run at Highbury come to a premature end, was at fault for the second on 28 mintues. Frank Lampard's shot may have been well-struck, but it was straight and the keeper should not have let it slip from his hands. Hasselbaink was waiting and the Dutchman doesn't miss those.
The game seemed over already, yet the Toffees showed good spirit to fight back and got themselves back into the game on the stroke of half-time.
Campbell held the ball up well and played a sliderule pass inside the full-back which Naysmith tucked inside the far post.
That set up a fabulous second half, as Everton poured forward and showed why they are so high in the Premiership. Campbell, a thorn in the sides of Marcel Desailly and William Gallas all afternoon, beat Cudicini with a slightly mis-cued shot, yet Le Saux produced a match-winning clearance, heading the ball off the line.
He must have been wondering what he needed to do to score a few minutes later as he nodded Gravesen's header past the keeper yet again only to see it cannon back off the crossbar.
Young Rooney, all hustle, bustle and power, stormed past John Terry to a neat throughball, yet Cudicini was there again, while another point-blank stop from Gravesen's near-post header defied belief.
Then, deep into injury-time, came the controversial moment. Grankjaer hauled back Unsworth, then pulled him to the ground. There was aggression from Unsworth, but no punches and quite what the official saw to produce the red card, only he knows.
The decision is sure to be rescinded when Wolstenholme looks at it again, but that doesn't help Everton in his game, as Gianfranco Zola broke free seconds later and slid the ball to Gronkjaer who scored the easiest goal of his career.
OF THE MATCH: Graeme Le Saux (Chelsea)
Everton: Wright, Hibbert, Yobo, Stubbs,
Unsworth, Carsley, Tie Li (Gemmill 63), Gravesen, Naysmith, Radzinski
(Rooney 63), Campbell.
Chelsea: Cudicini, Melchiot, Gallas, Desailly,
Le Saux, Lampard, Stanic (Gronkjaer 60), Petit, De Lucas (Terry 76),
Hasselbaink (Gudjohnsen 84), Zola.