Chelsea keep title race open
Chelsea kept their Premier League title hopes alive as they won 1-0 Thursday at Everton. ( dpa )
Michael Essien got the only goal of the game - his eighth of the season - four minutes before halftime.
The victory leaves Chelsea two points behind leaders Manchester United, who have a game in hand.
On Saturday, United travel to Blackburn, where they have won just once in the league in seven years, after which both sides have three games remaining.
The April 26 clash between Chelsea and United looks like being the effective title decider.
Everton, meanwhile, have slipped five points behind Liverpool, having played a game more, in the struggle for fourth place and the final Champions League qualifying slot.
Just four points clear of Portsmouth, they could even miss on UEFA Cup qualification as injuries catch up with their slim squad.
Chelsea dominated the opening exchanges, without ever really looking like scoring, which has been their problem of late.
Without both Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba, Cheslea's starting lineup had scored just 25 goals between them this season, and for all their neat possession, they hardly looked like adding to that.
Indeed, they took the lead with their first effort on target of the game, after 41 minutes.
Essien and Shaun Wright-Phillips exchanged passes on the edge of the box, a large deflection laying Essien through to slip a finish past Tim Howard.
He had also scored Chelsea's goal Monday against Wigan.
It was a similar story after the break, with Chelsea in control without ever really looking like adding a second.
That had been the case Monday against Wigan, when they led for much of the second half before conceding a last-minute equalizer to Emile Heskey, but this time there was no sting in the tail.
Manuel Fernandes grazed the outside of a post with a free-kick, but that was as close as Everton came.