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Chelsea open gap at the top but long road ahead

Last updated on: November 9, 2009 10:11 IST

Image: Chelsea captain John Terry is held aloft by Frank Lampard as they celebrate his goal
Photographs: Reuters

They played "I'm Beginning to See the Light" at the end of Chelsea's 1-0 win over Manchester United in the Premier League on Sunday.

With almost a third of the season now gone in the title race, the old standard captured perfectly the mood of the west London side's elated fans.

Captain John Terry's headed goal after 76 minutes at Stamford Bridge was enough to give Chelsea a victory they just about deserved to put some daylight between them, Arsenal and Alex Ferguson's champions at the top of the table.

However, United were desperately close to taking at least one point, if not all three, from a match that took more than an hour to live up to its billing as the big clash featuring all that is best in the Premier League.

Chelsea's 11th win in a row at home

Image: Manchester United's Patrice Evra (left) challenges Didier Drogba

Most of the 90 minutes were full of errors from both teams, neither of which asserted any pattern or authority on the game until the last phase after Chelsea scored. The win was their 11th in a row at home in all matches -- equalling a club record.

They have also gone 14 hours 32 minutes without conceding a goal at Stamford Bridge since Hull City scored in the opening game of the season.

Clearly, at this stage of the season, Chelsea are a long way from having even one hand on the trophy, although 30 points from their opening 12 games, five more than Arsenal, who have a game in hand, and United is certainly an impressive haul.

'There are a lot of tough matches to come'

Image: Chelsea's Michael Essien (top) challenges Michael Carrick

Chelsea coach Carlo Ancelotti told reporters that while he was delighted to be five points clear, it was far too early to assume they were in control of the situation.

"We know we have to stay focussed for the next matches. We beat a very good team today and the match was in the balance for 90 minutes," the relieved Italian said.

"It's a long season though and, although we got three points today, there are a lot of tough matches to come. It is not just between Chelsea and Manchester United for the title either. If Arsenal keep on winning, they will obviously do very well too."

'That goal should not have been allowed'

Image: John Terry (4th right) scores against Manchester United

The only goal of a tense, largely error-strewn match that only came to life in the last 20 minutes, was scored after Frank Lampard's arrowed free kick was glanced in by unmarked skipper Terry, leaving visiting keeper Edwin Van der Sar well beaten.

United manager Alex Ferguson was angry the goal was allowed to stand, claiming Chelsea striker Didier Drogba pulled defender Wes Brown to the ground at the free kick and the referee was unsighted because he was standing behind Chelsea's Joe Cole.

"That goal should not have been allowed," Ferguson said. "We've dominated the game, had great chances to win the match and that's our fault we didn't take them."

Rooney impressed with virtuoso display

Image: John Terry (right) challenges Wayne Rooney

United certainly had the outstanding player on the field with striker Wayne Rooney impressing watching England coach Fabio Capello with a virtuoso display of defending, tackling and creating chances either for himself or his team mates.

Although United tested Chelsea keeper Petr Cech with a few long-range shots, saw a lofted Ryan Giggs volley clear the bar and had three good efforts from Rooney, too much of their build-up play petered out at the edge of the box.

United's Michael Owen, a late replacement for Giggs, had a 10-minute cameo role which gave him little chance to impress Capello, whose England team face Brazil next week in a friendly.

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