Manchester United were denied the chance to keep the pressure on Premier League leaders Manchester City as Demba Ba's penalty ensured a 1-1 draw for ten-man Newcastle United at Old Trafford today.
When Javier Hernandez opened the scoring early in the second half at Old Trafford, United were on course to move to within two points of City ahead of their rivals' trip to Liverpool on Sunday. However, the reigning champions were left four points adrift of City as Ba equalised 15 minutes later from the spot.
Newcastle survived the final 12 minutes down to ten men after winger Jonas Gutierrez was sent off for a second booking after fouling Nani. "It was an absolute travesty," Manchester United coach Sir Alex Ferguson said of the draw.
At Stamford Bridge, fifth-placed Chelsea finally got back on track with a comfortable 3-0 win over toothless Wolverhampton Wanderers.
After three defeats in their last four league matches and a painful UEFA Champions League loss at Bayer Leverkusen in midweek, under-fire manager Andre Villas-Boas could not afford another slip at home to one of the division's strugglers.
They got the perfect start when captain John Terry scored with a powerful header from Juan Mata's corner. Mata was the provider again when Daniel Sturridge added Chelsea's second goal in the 29th minute. And, the Spanish star Mata completed his virtuoso display with the third goal on the stroke of half-time.
"It was a really important result," Villas-Boas said. "We seek no excuses for the bad period and we know we haven't been doing well but our confidence grew in the first half."
Spurs claim late win
Third-placed Tottenham Hotspur moved to within six points of leaders City after Jermain Defoe's late goal clinched a 3-1 win at West Bromwich Albion. Harry Redknapp's side fell behind when Youssouf Mulumbu netted in the tenth minute, but Spurs equalised in the 24th minute through Emmanuel Adebayor.
Nicky Shorey gave away a penalty with a foul on Aaron Lennon and although Adebayor's spot-kick was saved by Ben Foster, the Togo striker slotted in the rebound. England striker Defoe won it for the visitors in the 81st minute and Adebayor added a late third.
Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen went from zero to hero as his late goal rescued a 1-1 draw with Fulham at the Emirates Stadium.
Belgian defender Vermaelen turned Danny Murphy's chipped pass into his own net in the 65th minute, but he scored at the right end in the 82nd minute, heading in Theo Walcott's cross to extend Arsenal's unbeaten run to 11 matches.
Everton's revival continued as David Moyes' side won 2-0 over third-bottom Bolton Wanderers at the Reebok Stadium.
David Wheater was shown a straight red card for a studs-up lunge on Everton midfielder Diniyar Bilyaletdinov and Everton took advantage through second-half goals from Marouane Fellaini and Apostolos Vellios.
Norwich, Wigan grab points
Grant Holt got a 73rd-minute winner as Norwich City defeated Queens Park Rangers 2-1 at Carrow Road. Russell Martin fired Norwich ahead from close range in the 15th minute before QPR defender Luke Young equalised in the 59th minute.
Wigan Athletic moved off the bottom of the table after Franco Di Santo's stoppage-time strike secured a 2-1 win at Sunderland. Steve Bruce's side took the lead in the eighth minute through Sebastian Larsson, but the Latics levelled just before half-time thanks to a Jordi Gomez penalty and Gomez netted the dramatic late winner.
Stoke City heaped more pressure on Blackburn Rovers manager Steve Kean with a 3-1 victory at the Britannia Stadium. Tony Pulis's side took the lead through Rory Delap's first-half header and added further goals after half-time from Glenn Whelan and Peter Crouch. Blackburn, who are now bottom, got one back through Ruben Rochina in the closing stages.