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Terry's header gives Chelsea win over Man United

JOHN Terry headed Chelsea to a 1-0 victory over Manchester United to extend the team's Premier League lead to five points yesterday, despite rarely threatening the defending champions.

Chelsea had been frustrated by United for 76 minutes, but then profited from a contentiously awarded free kick when United midfielder Darren Fletcher was judged to have fouled defender Ashley Cole.

Frank Lampard whipped the ball into the penalty area and captain Terry connected with a glancing header to clinch Chelsea's 11th consecutive win in all competitions at Stamford Bridge.

"It was a bad decision, but there's nothing we can do about it. You lose faith in refereeing sometimes," said United manager Alex Ferguson, who is already facing a Football Association punishment for criticizing match officials. "Clearly, Darren Fletcher's won the ball - he never touched Cole who has jumped up in the air - and then (Didier) Drogba's pulled (Wes) Brown to the ground for the goal.

"The referee's position to make the decision was absolutely ridiculous, he can't see anything. He's got a Chelsea player (Joe Cole) standing right in front of him and he doesn't even move."

Chelsea's victory leaves it top of the table with 30 points, ahead of a two-week break for international matches.

"It is difficult to beat Manchester, it was in the balance over 90 minutes and difficult to score," Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti said. "We won on a set play, sometimes we have lost on set plays and today we won from this situation, which is important."

As for Chelsea's title prospects, the Italian said: "Until now we have done very well, but you have to count at the end of the season. We are in a good position in the Premiership and Champions League."

Second-place Arsenal, which has a game in hand, and Man United both have 25 points, while Tottenham is fourth with 22.

United pressed hard and packed its midfield to subdue a Chelsea side that had scored 19 goals in its five previous matches.

Wayne Rooney was deployed as a lone striker for United, which was missing Dimitar Berbatov through injury and had Michael Owen on the substitutes' bench as England coach Fabio Capello watched.

While hardworking, Rooney was isolated at times and starved of support, although after 10 minutes he turned Ricardo Carvalho but could only hit the side netting from a tight angle.

Teammate Michael Carrick tried his luck from distance in the first half, but Chelsea keeper Petr Cech easily collected and saw the next effort from the United midfielder fly high into the stands.

United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar had little do, but the Dutchman denied Branislav Ivanovic in the opening minutes and produced a one-handed diving save to push Nicolas Anelka's shot wide before the break.

"We played good football and we had some chances but we stayed compact in defense," Anelka said.

United continued to torment after the restart, with Rooney firing wide and drawing a fine save from Cech with a curling shot from 20 (meters) yards.

"We've dominated the game, we've had great chances to win the match - and that's our fault," Ferguson said. "We had great opportunities to get to the edge of the box and some really good chances in and around the box, but we should be finishing it off. We've only ourselves to blame in that respect."

United defender Jonny Evans escaped punishment for kicking Drogba in the chest minutes before Chelsea's goal and it was the Ivory Coast striker who was booked by the referee.

United resisted making changes until after Terry's goal, but the late introduction of Owen and Gabriel Obertan failed to produce an equalizer.

Also yesterday, Everton won 2-1 at West Ham, Hull defeated Stoke 2-1 and Fulham drew 1-1 with Wigan.

Louis Saha and Dan Gosling scored Everton's goals to leave West Ham in the relegation zone.

Hull's victory eased the pressure on manager Phil Brown. Matthew Etherington had put Stoke in front, but Seyi Olofinjana leveled after the break and Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink struck in the final minute after Stoke's Abdoulaye Faye was sent off.

Fulham earned a point at Wigan after Clint Dempsey was brought down by Titus Bramble and then scored from the resulting penalty kick.


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