Chelsea denied by late equaliser
MANCHESTER, England (AP): English Premier League leader Chelsea dropped points for only the second time this season by conceding a last-gasp equaliser at Manchester United that would also have been celebrated in the blue half of the city yesterday.
Chelsea were on the verge of moving eight points clear of Manchester City - arguably their biggest rivals for the title - when Robin van Persie rammed home a loose ball in the fourth minute of injury time in a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford.
Didier Drogba put Chelsea ahead in the 53rd minute with a glancing header from a corner, for the 36-year-old striker's first league goal since joining the club for a second spell.
Surprisingly, Southampton are Chelsea's nearest challenger after nine games, four points behind Jose Mourinho's unbeaten side. City are two points further adrift in third after losing 2-1 at West Ham on Saturday and United remained 10 points off the pace.
Tottenham's disappointing start to the season continued with a 2-1 loss at home to Newcastle, which further eased the pressure on visiting manager Alan Pardew.
Samuel Eto'o scored twice in Everton's 3-1 win at Burnley, which is second from bottom and the only team in England's top four leagues without a victory this season.
A month ago, Chelsea came to Manchester and conceded an 85th-minute equaliser against City that was scored by their former midfielder Frank Lampard.
Van Persie left it even later.
The Netherlands striker pounced after a header by Marouane Fellaini was parried out by goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois. That came from a free kick conceded by Branislav Ivanovic, who clipped the heels of Angel Di Maria to earn a red card for a second booking.
Van Persie's late intervention made amends for his error at Drogba's goal. He was supposed to be guarding the near post as Drogba's towering header flew toward him, but the ball went between Van Persie and the upright.
"To not be happy with a point shows clearly how good we were," Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said, "and how good we are playing."
United made a habit of scoring late goals under Alex Ferguson and after the disappointing 10-month tenure of David Moyes, United's fighting spirit appears to be growing under Louis van Gaal.
It was the second late equaliser United scored this week, with Daley Blind's 87th-minute strike securing a 2-2 draw at West Bromwich Albion on Monday.
"My boys fought till the end," Van Gaal said. "We kept together and I think we deserved it. I have seen that we could have beat Chelsea - I'm saying that nearly every game, but this is against Chelsea, who are a top team and we were at least equal."
While United are showing some progress under Van Gaal, the opposite is happening at Spurs.
Newcastle produced a rousing second-half fightback at White Hart Lane to leave Tottenham in 11th place, three points off the relegation places and with just one win in the last seven league games.
"We need to improve a lot (to get in top four)," Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino said. "It's not tactical or physical, it's our mentality. It's a big hit for us."
Tottenham dominated the first half, but only had Emmanuel Adebayor's 18th-minute header to show for it.
Half-time substitute Sammy Ameobi equalised for Newcastle within seconds of the team kicking off the second half and Ayoze Perez scored his first goal for the club for a 58th-minute winner.
"I reminded them about the fundamentals of a Premier League game and we came out with a much stronger attitude," Pardew said of his half-time team talk. "I thought (in the) second half the players were magnificent."
Pardew was under severe pressure a month ago with Newcastle at the bottom of the standings, but seven points from the last three games has lifted the team away from danger.
Eto'o scored Everton's first and last goals in the win over Burnley that lifted the team into the top half.
The former Barcelona striker put the visitors ahead in the fourth minute with a powerful header and clinched victory with a curling shot in the 85th.
Burnley equalised in the 20th when Romelu Lukaku surrendered possession to allow Lukas Jutkiewicz to play in Danny Ings, who rounded the goalkeeper and slotted into an empty net. Lukaku made amends in the 29th, scuffing a right-foot shot into the corner to restore Everton's lead.