zaterdag 17 december 2011

Wigan Athletic 1-1 Chelsea

Late Jordi Gomez tap-in salvages point for hosts as Andre Villas-Boas’ men stumble in title race
A Petr Cech error allowed the Lactics to equalise following Daniel Sturridge's second-half opener, with Roberto Martinez's side now one point from safety

Chelsea failed to close the gap on league-leaders Manchester City with a scrappy 1-1 draw at Wigan on Saturday.

Daniel Sturridge was lively throughout and his single moment of class on the hour-mark looked to have secured all three points, but a late howler from Chelsea keeper Peter Cech gave the Latics a desperately needed lifeline.

Andre Villas-Boas recalled Frank Lampard to the starting XI after his match-winning penalty against Manchester City last weekend, with Brazilian midfielder Ramires dropping out of the squad due to injury.

Roberto Martinez named an unchanged line-up from the side that secured a 2-1 away victory to West Brom last weekend.

The match began tentatively, with Chelsea's probing limited to John Terry's driven shot from 25 yards after 15 minutes.

Sturridge looked lively early on, beating Latics' left-back David Jones to the byline with pace to win a corner, but the away side were unable to create any concrete chances.

The first shot on target wasn't registered until halfway through the opening period, with Jose Boswinga's curled cross from the right rebounding to midfielder Oriol Romeu, but his volley from 22 yards was excellently saved by the diving Ali Al Habsi.

Mohamed Diame look to test Cech's goalmouth after the half hour mark, but he couldn't keep his shot on goal, while Blues forward Didier Drogba had the best chance of the match moments later, but his close-range header was off-target.

The hosts had a dubious penalty appeal as the half drew to a close, Branislav Ivanovic seemingly blocking a Victor Moses shot with his arm, but referee Martin Atkinson waved off appeals - a decision that proved to be correct.

At the interval, Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas made the first switch of the game, as Saloman Kalou entered at the expense of Romeu, with the visitors looking to increase the pressure on the hosts.

The Blues began the second half with renewed vigour, but were once again unable to seriously threaten the opposition goalmouth, and Wigan soon regained their composure and enjoyed a spell of their own.

The first half-chance of the second period came when Kalou worked his way around Wigan left-back Antolin Alcaraz, feeding Drogba whose stabbed shot was just wide of Al Habsi's inside post. Yet moments later, the deadlock between the two sides was mercifully broken.

Ashley Cole was afforded space to edge into Wigan's half and pick out his pass, crossing long and through for the on-running Sturridge. 

The former Manchester City man's first touch was true, setting up a punishing second that smashed the ball at a sharp angle past the Wigan keeper to give Chelsea the lead with half an hour remaining.

Moments later, Wigan looked to catch Chelsea cold, but Jones' left-footed effort couldn't threaten Cech.

Villas-Boas tinkered once again, bringing on John Obi Mikel for a muted Juan Mata, as the west Londoners looked to shore up their advantage.

Latics manager Roberto Martinez finally showed his hand on 72 minutes, introducing perennial match-winner Franco di Santo for forward Connor Sammon and Hugo Rodallega for the left-back Jones.

Chelsea looked to being holding out for the win, defending deep against Wigan's tepid attacks, yet with two minutes of time remaining, Cech fumbled a tame poke from Rodallega, allowing Gomez to tap home the equaliser.

The result sees Wigan climb to within one point of safety, with Chelsea now four and six points behind Manchester United and league-leaders Manchester City respectively, who both play on Sunday.


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