LONDON. — A late Willian strike snatched a 1-0 home win for Chelsea over a stubborn Everton side to maintain their seven-point lead over Manchester City who won 4-1 at Stoke City in the English Premier League on Wednesday night.
Chelsea were frustrated before Willian struck from 20 metres in the 89th minute to break the resistance of Everton whose midfielder Gareth Barry had been sent off just before the goal.
City kept pace with the leaders as striker Sergio Aguero scored twice, his first goals in over two months, to help the champions to their first league win in five matches at mid-table Stoke, who briefly made it 1-1 through Peter Crouch.
England midfielder James Milner and Samir Nasri also struck for City.
An unlikely brace from substitute defender Chris Smalling and a late Robin van Persie penalty lifted Manchester United to an unconvincing 3-1 home win over struggling Burnley who had equalised through Danny Ings.
United leapfrogged Arsenal and Southampton into third in the table after the latter drew 0-0 at home to West Ham United, who had goalkeeper Adrian sent off.
Meanwhile, Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho threatened to walk out of his media conference as he bristled at questions about a melee involving Branislav Ivanovic in the 1-0 win over Everton.
Mourinho, who also broke off a BBC interview when asked about the incident, refused to give his view when questioned in the post-match press conference.
The FA have reportedly launched an investigation into Ivanovic’s clash with James McCarthy during Chelsea’s 1-0 win over Everton on Wednesday.
Defender Ivanovic appeared to head-butt Everton’s McCarthy in a scuffle before Willian’s 89th-minute winner preserved Chelsea’s seven-point Premier League lead.
“I am concerned with my reaction because one more question and I leave,” Mourinho said, seemingly referencing his recent £25 000 FA fine for bringing the game into dispute over the conspiracy claims.
Retrospective action by the Football Association is now a possibility, with Everton manager Roberto Martinez, who lost Barry to a late red card, strongly critical of the Serbian defender.
Chelsea have already fallen foul of the video replay panel, with striker Diego Costa missing Wednesday’s game due to his three-game suspension for stamping on Liverpool’s Emre Can in last month’s League Cup semi-final.
The Ivanovic incident came directly after referee Jonathan Moss had shown a second yellow card to Barry for a foul on Willian.
Martinez was adamant the official had missed a more serious offence as players from both sides came together angrily in the aftermath of Barry’s challenge.
“From that moment the red card gives an unfair momentum to the home side and allows them to score a goal. And then, if you look at the images, Ivanovic’s behaviour is wrong. That shouldn’t be allowed,” Martinez said.
He added: “First of all he grabs James McCarthy around his neck in a very forceful manner. Then he put his head against him.
James McCarthy never reacted one single bit and if you want to be fair with the laws, that’s a red card.
“It is even more hurtful because Ivanovic was involved in the goal and there was a deflection on the way in and it went through Darron Gibson’s legs.” — AFP.