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Berbatov strike dents Spurs as Chelsea take advantage

ESPN staff
March 17, 2013 « Hodgson warns Rooney to expect provocation | Chartbeat test »
Dimitar Berbatov's strike was the difference against Spurs on Sunday © Getty Images
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Dimitar Berbatov came back to haunt his former side as Tottenham were beaten 1-0 by Fulham at White Hart Lane, with Chelsea overtaking them and moving into third place thanks to a 2-0 win over West Ham.

Elsewhere, Wigan revitalised their hopes of Premier League survival with a dramatic 2-1 victory over Newcastle at the DW Stadium, as Sunderland played out a 1-1 draw with 10-man Norwich.

Premier League results & table

Tottenham saw themselves dragged back into the thick of the race for fourth in the league after a popular old-boy led Fulham to a narrow 1-0 victory.

With former Spurs boss Martin Jol watching from the sidelines, Berbatov was on hand to turn home Sascha Riether's low cross just seven minutes after half-time - a decisive intervention that would ultimately clinch the points and leave Andre Villas-Boas and his team looking over their shoulder once again in the race for fourth after Chelsea went above them.

The advantage created by Spurs' recent derby victory over Arsenal is suddenly on the verge of being erased entirely, with subsequent league defeats to Liverpool and now the Cottagers leaving the Gunners just four points behind their arch-rivals with a game in hand.

Perhaps Tottenham were drained by their extra-time Europa League victory over Inter Milan on Thursday, although in truth Fulham did not look like threatening for large parts of the contest. Steven Sidwell, in fact, was the only visiting player to register a first-half shot at goal - two speculative long-range efforts failing to test Hugo Lloris.

Spurs had numerous chances but failed to convert, with Gareth Bale and Emmanuel Adebayor both unable to find the target from close-range in decent openings. And that inability would soon be punished, as a lost ball in midfield after 52 minutes enabled Ashkan Dejagah to feed Riether out wide, who crossed for Berbatov to calmly turn beyond Lloris.

Villas-Boas responded by bringing on Jermain Defoe and Thomas Carroll - seemingly preferred over Lewis Holtby - but the attacking substitutions did not bring a goal, with Defoe denied by Mark Schwarzer from close range in one critical passage of play as Adebayor's finishing continued to leave a lot to be desired.

Fulham successfully saw out injury time, leaving Spurs to regroup and consider the effect European participation is having on their bid to reach the Champions League oncemore.

Frank Lampard notched up his 200th goal for Chelsea as they sealed a comfortable three points over West Ham, moving up to third place and above the beaten Spurs.

Lampard put the Blues in front in the 19th minute, striking against the side he played six seasons for, and Eden Hazard made sure of the win early in the second half.

Chelsea had applied the pressure right from the off against the Hammers, with Hazard and Juan Mata looking lively.

So it was only a matter of time before they would find the back of the net. Hazard picked out Lampard in the box, and the midfielder was on hand to head home goal No. 200 for Chelsea, and with it breathe a huge sigh of relief after being stuck on 199 for a month.

West Ham's response was a positive one, and when Andy Carroll thought he had scored after some good work from Matt Jarvis, instead he was penalised for pushing David Luiz.

Jussi Jaaskelainen was doing well to keep the score down for West Ham as Chelsea continued to bombard the visitors. Just before the break Demba Ba was seemingly odds-on to double Chelsea's lead but was superbly thwarted by the Hammers' shot-stopper.

West Ham were fortunate only to be just the one goal down, but their luck ran out five minutes into the second half as Hazard netted the all-important second goal for the home side.

Having been on the great same wavelength throughout the contest, Hazard and Mata played a neat one-two that enabled the Belgian to jink his way beyond a couple of West Ham defenders and finish with composure.

Wigan did their survival chances no harm at all after scoring a late winner to overcome Newcastle 2-1 at the DW Stadium, a result which left Newcastle boss Alan Pardew fuming after the full-time whistle.

Jean Beausejour put Wigan in front after some poor defending from Davide Santon, and controversy erupted when Newcastle's Massadio Haidara was stretched off injured following a high challenge from Callum McManaman. Newcastle assistant manager John Carver was sent to the stands at half-time, after gesticulating wildly with McManaman the players left for half-time.

Referee Mark Halsey did not punish the Wigan player, leaving Newcastle furious, and heading into the tunnel at half-time tempers flared between the two sets of players.

Santon made up for his error by grabbing the equaliser for Newcastle in the second period with a brilliant finish, scoring his first goal for the club, and from there it looked as though they would get the winner.

However, it was Wigan who found it just before stoppage time as following an almighty scramble in the penalty area Arouna Koné poked home to give Wigan a crucial three points in their bid to stay in the Premier League. Wigan are three points adrift of Aston Villa, who occupy 17th place.

Mark Bunn's dismissal did not cost Norwich a share of the spoils © PA Photos
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In the day's early kick-off, ten-man Norwich showed great resolve to hold on to a 1-1 draw with Sunderland - although Canaries manager Chris Hughton may have some questions for referee Chris Foy over a number of his decisions.

Foy was the centre of attention during the first half as he controversially sent off Norwich goalkeeper Mark Bunn for denying a clear goalscoring opportunity, despite replays subsequently suggesting that the ball hit Bunn on his chest as he rushed from his box, rather than his hands.

Sebastien Bassong was then the victim of a similarly-disputed decision five minutes before half-time, as Foy awarded a penalty after the linesman flagged for a handball - despite the defender clearly controlling the ball on his chest before it seemed to unintentionally brush his arm.

From the resultant penalty Craig Gardner made no mistake, cancelling out Wes Hoolahan's opener - the Irishman on the line to grab the glory after Kei Kamara had risen highest to turn a header goalbound after 26 minutes.

The second half saw Norwich dig in and attempt to preserve a point, although substitute goalkeeper Lee Camp was only infrequently struggled as the home side struggled to create clear-cut openings - with Stephane Sessegnon failing with perhaps the most threatening opportunities.

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