Jimmy Keeps Blues In The Race (Sky Sports)
Chelsea 1 Charlton Athletic 0
Chelsea stayed in touch with their title rivals after a narrow 1-0 victory over Charlton courtesy of a first-half Jimmy Floyyd Hasselbaink penalty.
The West Londoners could not translate their obvious superiority into goals and were made to endure one or two nervy moments late on, but Hasselbaink's spot-kick ultimately proved decisive.
The hosts nearly made the perfect start when Jesper Gronkjaer set off on a weaving run from inside his own half and, after leaving Graham Stuart in his wake, cut inside and unleashed a dipping shot from 20 yards which came crashing back off the crossbar, from the rebound Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink could not manoeuvre space to shoot.
The flying Danish winger was then booked just four minutes later amid Chelsea shouts for a penalty after being adjudged to have dived in the box after tumbling under challenge from Mark Fish.
Chelsea took the lead in controversial circumstances after being awarded a dubious penalty on 27 minutes. Hasselbaink managed to get in front of Mark Fish as Adrian Mutu's deflected shot fell to him and was given the decision by referee Steve Bennett when the two fell to the ground even though the striker appeared to be backing in.
The Dutchman was clinical from the spot, however, and calmly sent Dean Kiely the wrong way to notch his 99th Premiership goal, and Chelsea's first in the league at Stamford Bridge in 2004.
A lacklustre Charlton were fortunate not to go in at the break two down when Glen Johnson came close to scoring his second goal of the week on the stroke of half time. However the full back found the side netting with a low left footed effort after Mutu's deep corner had found its way through to him beyond the far post.
Hasselbaink had the chance to bring up his ton just past the hour mark when Johnson had nodded back Gronkjaer's left-flank cross, but the hit-man scuffed his shot after turning Chris Perry eight yards from goal.
In a second half devoid of any real goalscoring chances Charlton came more into the contest, but still lacked the cutting edge up front to suggest that they could find a way back into the game.
They carved out their best opportunity of the afternoon fourteen minutes from time when substitute Shaun Bartlett got on the end of Jonatan Johansson's left-wing cross but directed his header both high and wide of the Chelsea goal.
The visitors continued to grow in confidence though, and Claus Jensen saw a flighted free kick fly narrowly wide with Neil Sullivan flapping at thin air.
Seconds later Mutu spurned the chance to make the game safe when he over-elaborated after being set free. The Romanian left Chris Perry on the floor but after taking the ball around Kiely could only fire wildly into the stands from a tight angle.
Mutu then rattled the Charlton woodwork with a left-footed effort after Mark Fish had carelessly given away possession to Frank Lampard on the edge of the box leaving him without a Premiership goal at home for five months.
The former Parma star's frustration continued moments later as Kiely miraculously denied him from just five yards after substitute Eidur Gudjonsson had squared to put it on a plate for his team mate following a rapid counter attack.
Gallas, Huth, Johnson, Melchiot, Gronkjaer, Lampard, Nicolas, Hasselbaink (Gudjohnsen
Subs Not Used Ambrosio, Desailly, Rocastle, Oliveira
Booked Gronkjaer, Mutu
Goals Hasslebaink (pen 28)
Fish, Hreidarsson, Konchesky (Bartlett 75), Perry, Holland, Jensen, Johansson,
Kishishev, Stuart (Young 41), Di Canio
Subs Not Used Leite, Fortune, Highes