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Mata rescues Chelsea against Wigan

Sat 7th, April 2012

London, England (Sports Network) - Juan Mata's goal in stoppage time handed Chelsea a 2-1 win over Wigan at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, improving the Champions League hopes of Roberto Di Matteo's side.

Wigan looked poised to claim a crucial point when Mohamed Diame scored a nice equalizer eight minutes from time to cancel out a 62nd-minute goal from Branislav Ivanovic.

But Mata was on hand to finish off a fantastic volley from Fernando Torres that struck the post, moving Chelsea to within two points of fourth-place Arsenal, which faces Manchester City on Sunday.

A draw would have moved Wigan out of the bottom three but the Latics remain in the drop zone on goal difference.

Chelsea failed to impress in the first half but went ahead shortly after the hour mark through Ivanovic, who brought down a ball from Raul Meireles in an offside position and fired it past goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi with the flag staying down.

Ivanovic needed to clear a shot from Franco Di Santo off the goal line to keep Chelsea in front, but a well-struck shot from Diame 20 yards from goal had Wigan back on level terms.

It was a cruel blow for the visitors then as Didier Drogba's cross was smashed against the post by Torres, leaving Mata the chance to bundle the ball over the line from a few yards.

Sunderland 0, Tottenham 0

Sunderland, England - Tottenham and Sunderland played out a disappointing 0-0 draw at the Stadium of Light on Saturday, moving Spurs into third place but leaving the club in danger of slipping out of the top four.

The result sees Harry Redknapp's side go one point clear of Arsenal, but the Gunners can move past Spurs with a win against Manchester City on Sunday, while Chelsea has closed to within three points.

Tottenham started well and had Sunderland under pressure in the first half but failed to maintain that level of attacking play in the second half despite Redknapp bringing on offensive-minded substitutions in Aaron Lennon and Jermain Defoe.

Fulham 3, Bolton 0

Bolton, England - Bolton failed to put any distance between itself and the chasing relegation pack on Saturday as Clint Dempsey netted two goals for Fulham in a 3-0 victory for the Cottagers at the Reebok Stadium.

Wanderers were full of confidence after winning three straight games in league play, but went behind on the half-hour mark after a well-taken free kick from Dempsey found the top corner of the net.

The American doubled the advantage just before halftime when Damien Duff did well to get free on the wing and cross to the back post for Dempsey to head home his 15th league goal of the season.

Fulham had lost three games in a row but rebounded to beat Norwich City last week and sealed a second straight win 10 minutes from time when Mahamadou Diarra claimed his first goal for the club.

Liverpool 1, Aston Villa 1

Liverpool, England - A goal from Luis Suarez eight minutes from time prevented Liverpool from a fourth successive league defeat as the Reds salvaged a 1-1 draw with Aston Villa at Anfield on Saturday.

Aston Villa cannot yet count itself among the teams safely clear of relegation, but Chris Herd's goal after 10 minutes put the Villains in front and had to have Liverpool fearing another disappointing outing.

But the Reds picked things up a bit after halftime and Suarez saw his header come back off the post before Craig Bellamy was denied by the woodwork after beating goalkeeper Shay Given.

Daniel Agger had a header kept out by the crossbar, but this time Suarez was on hand to nod it home from a few yards to snatch a point.

Norwich City 2, Everton 2

Norwich, England - A second-half equalizer from Grant Holt helped Norwich City to a 2-2 draw with Everton at Carrow Road on Saturday, helping the Canaries move 12 points clear of the drop zone.

Nikica Jelavic scored both goals for Everton and has been in good form since his arrival from Rangers, netting four goals in four games.

Jelavic had the Toffees on the board first with a goal after 22 minutes, only for Norwich to equalize through Jonathan Howson six minutes before the break.

The visitors moved back ahead just after the hour mark with Jelavic once on target, but David Moyes and his side were denied a third straight win when Aaron Wilbraham collected his own rebound and squared it to Holt for the tying goal 15 minutes from the end.

West Bromwich 3, Blackburn 0

West Bromwich, England - Blackburn's recent struggles continued on Saturday as West Bromwich handed Rovers a 3-0 defeat at The Hawthorns.

The defeat is Blackburn's third in succession following back-to-back wins and keeps the club in the bottom three on goal difference.

Martin Olsson's own goal after seven minutes left Blackburn chasing the equalizer, and goals from Marc-Antoine Fortune and Liam Ridgewell after the break secured a Baggies victory for the first time in five games.

West Brom is 11 points above the drop zone and appears to be safe.

Stoke City 2, Wolverhampton 1

Stoke-on-Trent, England - Wolverhampton moved closer to relegation on Saturday as a goal from Peter Crouch in the second half doomed Wolves to a 2-1 defeat at Stoke City.

With six points separating the visitors from safety a win would have been vital for Terry Connor's men, and they started well with Michael Kightly lofting a ball into the penalty area that skipped straight into the net despite a lunging attempt by Wolverhampton's Dave Edwards to redirect it.

However, Robert Huth equalized before halftime for the Potters by beating goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey with a shot that slipped between his legs.

Jermaine Pennant's free kick in the 61st minute broke the deadlock as Crouch got up in a crowded penalty area to head the ball beyond Hennessey and hand Wolves a sixth straight defeat.

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