The race for the English Premier League title took yet another twist on Saturday as Tottenham Hotspur upended Chelsea to again open the door for champions Manchester United.
United put the pressure on Chelsea by winning 1-0 at neighbours Manchester City, thanks to a late, late goal by Paul Scholes and Chelsea then went down 2-1 at Tottenham in the day’s late match.
With three games remaining apiece, Chelsea top the table by just one point and even third-placed Arsenal are not out of it. If they win at Wigan on Sunday, they will be just three points off the pace.
Chelsea squandered the chance to move that step nearer to claiming the title by succumbing at Tottenham, who followed up their win over Arsenal with another stunning victory.
Jermain Defoe put Spurs ahead after 15 minutes, scoring from the penalty spot after a handball by Chelsea captain John Terry.
Terry sent off
Terry escaped a booking for the incident but Spurs scored a second just before half-time when Gareth Bale smashed a right-foot strike past Petr Cech.
Chelsea just couldn’t find a breakthrough and their dismay was completed when Terry was sent off for two bookings in quick succession.
Frank Lampard pulled one back for Chelsea in time added on to give Spurs a nervous finale but they hung on for victory.
Scholes heads winner
At Eastlands, Paul Scholes headed the winner deep into injury time to reignite United’s hopes.
“We deserved to win, I don’t think there’s any question of that, but I couldn’t see a goal coming.
“Then Manchester City had a bit of a go at the end and that made the game open and we were able to throw Scholes forward.
“No one is better than him at ghosting into the box. There was no one near him and it was a free header.
“He was man of the match today, he was wonderful, he’s such a skilful player.” City remain fourth but just one point ahead of Tottenham in the battle for the last Champions League spot but they will be gutted after the last-gasp header from veteran Scholes.
Games between these two sides have produced plenty of goals in recent seasons but neither were at their sharpest in the final third.
Tevez tested Edwin van der Sar in the United goal early on before Rooney, passed fit to return after injury, and then Giggs, both shot wide from close range.
Craig Bellamy shot straight at Van der Sar when in a good position and City almost scored in the last minutes after a goalmouth scramble.
There was still time for Wayne Bridge to test Van der Sar but with less than 20 seconds of the three minutes of added time to go, Scholes found himself unmarked in the area to head a brilliant winner.
With four games to go, City trail Tottenham by two points but manager Roberto Mancini said he still believed they could do it.
“We did not deserve to lose this game, he said. “I am disappointed we lost it in the last second. Scholes scored a good goal but probably we should have paid more attention and not lost the ball.
“I am sorry for my players and the supporters but we played a good game. It does not change anything because we can still get fourth position.
“We have four difficult games left and the crucial one will be when we meet Tottenham at home (on May 5). We will fight until the end.” Third-from-bottom Hull City picked up an important point in their fight against relegation as they drew 0-0 at Birmingham City, but Burnley remain one place below them after they were beaten 2-1 at Sunderland, Frazier Campbell and Darren Bent scoring the goals.
Blackburn Rovers came from behind twice to equalize against Everton but Tim Cahill snatched a late winner to make it 3-2 to the visitors.
Bolton Wanderers moved further clear of the bottom three with a dramatic 2-1 win at Stoke City, thanks to two goals from Matt Taylor in the last five minutes.
Fulham were held to a 0-0 draw at home by Wolves, who are now one point behind Bolton.