Chelsea leapfrogged Tottenham Hotspur into third place in the Premier League on Sunday after coming from behind to beat Sunderland 2-1. Chelsea’s fightback enabled them to take advantage of Spurs’ 2-2 draw with fellow Champions League hopefuls Everton at White Hart Lane,where Gylfi Sigurdsson scored a late equaliser to rescue the hosts in a pulsating game.
Rafa Benitez’s Chelsea moved up to third place with 58 points from 31 games,ahead of Spurs on goal difference but with a game in hand. Fifth-placed Arsenal are two points behind,while sixth-placed Everton have 52. Chelsea had fallen behind just before halftime when Cesar Azpilicueta steered Sunderland defender John O’Shea’s header into his own net.
The visitors returned the favour two minutes after the restart with an own goal of their own by Matthew Kilgallon following a dangerous move by Chelsea substitute Fernando Torres before Branislav Ivanovic sealed victory in the 55th minute.
Earlier in the day,Liverpool lost ground on the group chasing Champions League spots when they were held to a 0-0 draw by West Ham United at Anfield,leaving them in seventh place with 49 points from 32 games. The draw boosted West Ham’s chances of avoiding a relegation battle as they are now seven points clear of the drop zone in 12th place.
Newcastle United also pulled themselves further away from trouble with a 1-0 win at home to Fulham thanks to Papiss Cisse’s stoppage-time winner. Victory lifted them to 13th place with 36 points,a point behind West Ham. League leaders Manchester United,who are 15 points clear,host second-placed champions Manchester City on Monday.
Fans were still taking their seats at White Hart Lane when Adebayor struck with just 34 seconds on the clock — the second fastest Premier League goal of the season after Robin van Persie’s 31-second effort for Manchester United against West Ham in November.
The Togo striker stuck out his leg to meet a low cross from Jan Vertonghen on the left to put Spurs in front. Everton,whose dreams of playing in Europe’s elite club competition next season are alive but becoming faint,did not let the early setback get to them too much and Phil Jagielka pulled one back in the 15th minute with a header. The England defender rose high from a Leighton Baines corner and headed the ball down through the legs of Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris.
That early goal was forgotten when Everton went ahead in the 53rd minute through Kevin Mirallas,who weaved his way through the Spurs defence to net in a second successive game after scoring the winner in last weekend’s 1-0 win over Stoke City.
Spurs chased an equaliser with midfielder Mousa Dembele hitting the bar with a deflected shot before Adebayor also rattled the woodwork and the rebound gifted Sigurdsson the 87th-minute goal. “We left it late which didn’t give us a chance to go for the third (goal),” Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas told ESPN.
“We had to battle very hard to get the draw. We believe it (Champions League qualification) is going to go down to the wire.”