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Chelsea maintain title hopes with win
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April 18, 2008 10:59 IST
Last Updated: April 18, 2008 11:00 IST

Chelsea kept their title hopes alive of winning the Premier League when they beat Everton 1-0 at Goodison Park on Thursday with a first-half goal from Michael Essien.

The victory lifted Chelsea, who have three matches to play, on to 78 points, two behind leaders Manchester United [Images] who have a game in hand. Manchester United visit Chelsea on April 26.

Defeat dented Everton's chances of catching Liverpool and securing fourth spot and a Champions League qualifying berth next season.

With three matches to play, fifth-placed Everton have 61 points, five behind Liverpool, who have a game in hand.

The only goal of a dour match came with Chelsea's first shot on target after 41 minutes.

Shaun Wright-Phillips's reverse pass into the box was deflected into Essien's path and the Ghanaian midfielder chested the ball down before lifting it over goalkeeper Tim Howard.

Essien was also on target in Chelsea's 1-1 draw with Wigan Athletic at Stamford Bridge on Monday, when a late Wigan equaliser dented Chelsea's title aspirations.

Chelsea manager Avram Grant made five changes from Monday, but Frank Lampard [Images] and Didier Drogba [Images] were both out of the side, Lampard for family reasons and Drogba through injury.

Chelsea were still a little too sharp for Everton, but although they stretched their unbeaten league run to 18 matches, Chelsea will fail in their title bid if United win their next two matches at Blackburn Rovers and Chelsea.

Neither side produced much of note and Everton rarely threatened to score as they bid to beat Chelsea for the first time in 20 matches dating back to May 2001.

Everton manager David Moyes told his club's web site afterwards he was disappointed with the result.

"We didn't play well enough to take anything out of the game," he said. "You never want to lose a goal but before the break it makes it a little bit more difficult. It's hard to get goals against them."

The match was moved to Thursday to suit TV schedules and Chelsea paid for their fans' tickets and travel costs for making the journey to Merseyside.

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