Carlo Ancelotti was determined to find the positives from Chelsea's goalless draw at Birmingham despite his side continuing their recent indifferent form.
Chelsea fire a blank
Carlo Ancelotti was determined to find the positives from Chelsea's goalless draw at Birmingham despite his side continuing their recent indifferent form. While the Premier League leaders enjoyed the better chances, it was Birmingham who had the ball in the net in the first half, Christian Benitez poking it over the line and apparently being played onside by an injured Didier Drogba only to see the flag raised against him.
The visitors, looking to extend a four-point lead over second-placed Manchester United, had excellent chances to win it themselves as Branislav Ivanovic, Daniel Sturridge, Alex and Florent Malouda all went close. Malouda, meanwhile, was dismissed in the closing stages after receiving a second caution. Failure to take three points from the West Midlands left Ancelotti's side with a recent record of only one win in five league games, while United can reduce the gap to two points by beating Hull today.
"It is not a good result for us but, as for what we did on the pitch, I think we played well," said the Italian coach. "We had a lot of chances, showed very good heart and the goalkeeper for Birmingham [Joe Hart] made very good saves. We are disappointed with the result but not for the performance of the team. We improved after the last time against West Ham [a 1-1 draw]. "We played well, Birmingham tried to play the counter-attack. It was a difficult game for us but I think that Chelsea did the best in this moment."
As for Benitez's disallowed effort, Ancelotti was non-committal. "I don't know if it was right because I was a long distance from it and didn't see it well," he said. "I think the assistant referee was in a better position." Regarding the red card, Ancelotti added: "Malouda did a foul at the end which was not a silly foul, it was just a foul and the referee decided it was a yellow card, but for me it was not a foul deserving a further yellow card. But I think the referee did a good job." Opposite number Alex McLeish was similarly philosophical and insisted he took no extra satisfaction in helping his old Aberdeen boss, United chief Sir Alex Ferguson. "I'm in it for Birmingham City," he said. "I'm sure not only Sir Alex but the other clubs around Chelsea will be saying it gives them a chance as well. Chelsea had their moments as well, let's be honest and Joe's had a couple of good saves." * PA Man of the match: Joe Hart (Birmingham)
Burnley are now winless in eight Premier League games after yesterday's draw with Bolton. The point was enough to maintain the Clarets' record of just one home defeat, but left them just three points above Wanderers, who remain in the bottom three. Matt Taylor 's exquisite left-foot free-kick, his fourth goal of the season, gave the visitors the lead after 29 minutes. A dull game livened up after the break as Burnley's Kevin McDonald hit the underside of the bar with a thunderous drive, while at the other end Taylor's low effort clipped the outside the post. The home side finally equalised on 56 minutes when David Nugent headed in Wade Elliott's cross. The result means Burnley have not beaten Bolton in the league since the teams met in the fourth tier of English football in 1987. Man of the match: Matt Taylor (Bolton)
Marouane Fellaini's equalised five minutes from time to give Everton a deserved point at Sunderland yesterday. The Belgian smashed the ball into the roof of the net from 10 yards after Tony Hibbert's cross had been deflected into this path. The goal cancelled out Darren Bent's fine opener for the hosts. The England striker headed in his 11th of the season from Kenwyne Jones's excellent cross from the right after 17 minutes. Bent came close to adding a second minutes later but saw his shot cleared off the line by Johnny Heitinga. Sunderland's dominance was a far cry from early in the game, when Everton's Leon Osman hit a post after eight minutes. In the second-half, Everton keeper brilliantly Tim Howard tipped over Paulo da Silva's header before Fellaini's timely strike. Man of the match: Steven Pienaar (Everton)
Hugo Rodallega's seventh goal of the season earned Wigan a point with North West rivals Blackburn yesterday. The Colombian headed home Charles N'Zogbia's left-wing cross after 53 minutes of an open an entertaining match at the DW Stadium. Benni McCarthy, who gave the visitors a 30th-minute lead with a volley from six yards, could have won it for Blackburn, but his overhead kick was well-blocked by keeper Chris Kirkland with five minutes left. Both teams also had relieved centre-backs after two of them came within an inch of scoring own goals. Wigan's Titus Bramble slid in to deflect a cross just past his own post after five minutes. And just five minutes later Blackburn's Christopher Samba headed a cross towards his own net before Paul Robinson scrambled the ball away. Man of the match: Paul Robinson (Blackburn)