LIVERPOOL // The Chelsea captain John Terry was sent off for a wild challenge last night as the Blues missed a chance to reclaim top spot in the Premier League after drawing 0-0 at Everton. Instead, Liverpool, who drew 1-1 at Arsenal on Sunday, remain top by a single point thanks to their Merseyside rivals' resilience, despite not fielding a recognised striker against Chelsea. Goodison Park had erupted in celebration in the 84th minute when Steven Pienaar bundled the ball into the net, but the Everton midfielder was adjudged to have been offside before stealing the ball out of goalkeeper Petr Cech's hands.
The Blues looked unsettled and had three more players booked for dissent after Terry saw red for a one-footed diving lunge on Leon Osman in the 35th minute that will likely earn him a three-match ban. "My feeling at the time was that it was a reckless challenge," the Everton manager David Moyes said. "Osman is nursing a really sore ankle from the challenge, which will make him a doubt (for Middlesbrough on Friday)."
Chelsea counterpart Luiz Felipe Scolari was fuming in the tunnel at half-time with broadcaster Setanta claiming he shouted, "Are you afraid?" at the referee Phil Dowd - seemingly a reference to the jeers from the home crowd that followed the tackle. Still fuming after the match, Scolari did not want to risk being punished by the Football Association for criticising Dowd on air. "The Chelsea management have a number of issues with a number of the decisions during the game and they feel it is better not to say anything that gets them into trouble," the Chelsea media chief Steve Atkins said.
Cech was more accepting of Dowd's decision. "He made a decision and we have to live with that," the Czech Republic goalkeeper said. Terry, who also captains the England national team, was also sent off in the 3-1 win at Manchester City in September, although he won an appeal against the decision. Monday's draw, which owed much to Cech thwarting Everton's second-half aerial threat, halted Chelsea's top-flight record run of 11 consecutive away wins - eight under Scolari this season - but the Blues have now only collected six points in their past five games.
It was the second weekend in a row that Chelsea and Liverpool both drew, providing a boost to Manchester United. The defending champions, who won the Fifa Club World Cup in Japan on Sunday, are just seven points behind Liverpool with two games in hand. *AP