|Fulham's Clint Dempsey, right, celebrates his goal against Chelsea with his captain Danny Murphy during an English Premier League soccer match at Stamford Bridge ground in London, Monday, Dec. 26, 2011. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)|
Dempsey goal sends Chelsea to 3rd straight draw
LONDON—U.S. star Clint Dempsey's goal for Fulham sent Chelsea to a third consecutive 1-1 draw Monday and further damaged its Premier League title hopes.
Reeling from its worst home loss in more than 40 years, Fulham scored just its fifth away goal this season. Bryan Ruiz eluded Chelsea's Ashley Cole and crossed to Dempsey, who sent the ball past goalkeeper Petr Cech in the 57th minute. It was Dempsey's ninth goal of the season.
Fourth-place Chelsea opened the scoring within two minutes of the second half. Fernando Torres, making his first league start in almost two months, failed to control Cole's cross but the ball fell to Juan Mata, who left-footed it home from the edge of the penalty area.
Chelsea is two points ahead of Arsenal, which hosts Wolverhampton Wanderers on Tuesday, and 11 points behind the leaders -- Manchester rivals City and United.
United surged to a second 5-0 rout in a week, beating Wigan behind Dimitar Berbatov's hat trick. The result left City clinging to the top spot on goal difference after being held to a 0-0 draw by West Bromwich Albion.
Third-place Tottenham, 10 points behind the Manchester teams but with two games in hand, plays at Norwich on Tuesday.
Sixth-place Liverpool failed to seize on Chelsea's slip, drawing 1-1 at home to last-place Blackburn.
Blackburn is just a point behind Bolton, which lost 2-0 to a Newcastle team that had not won in six matches. Sunderland climbed four points clear of the danger zone with a 1-1 draw at Everton.