LONDON: Salomon Kalou came off the bench to score in the 89th minute and give Chelsea a 2-1 home win over Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday that keeps the champions' Premier League title hopes alive for at least another week.
Spurs went ahead with a 25 metre drive by Sandro but Chelsea levelled at the end of the first half thanks to a controversial Frank Lampard goal before Kalou stabbed home the winner.
Chelsea, who visit leaders Manchester United next weekend, are now just three points behind the Old Trafford side in second place on 70 points with three matches left. United, who visit Arsenal on Sunday, have 73 with four games to play.
Arsenal are in third place with 64 points ahead of fourth-placed Manchester City, who look set for the final Champions League qualifying spot, on 59 before they host West Ham United on Sunday. Spurs stay fifth on 55.
At the other end of the table, Blackburn Rovers edged towards safety by beating Bolton Wanderers 1-0 to end their 11-game winless run and climb to 15th in the 20-team standings on 38 points with three games remaining.
Wigan Athletic, who drew 1-1 at home to Everton, remain third-last, while Blackpool, goalless at home to Stoke City, also have 35 points and are one place higher.
The bottom two sides, Wolverhampton Wanderers (33) and West Ham United (32), are playing on Sunday while Birmingham City, with 38 points and Newcastle United, Aston Villa and Sunderland, all on 41, are still not certain of safety.
Queens Park Rangers secured promotion from the Championship (second division) by beating Watford 2-0 away, though they still have an anxious wait for an FA hearing into a third party player ownership issue that could result in them being docked points.
In the evening kick off at Stamford Bridge Didier Drogba smashed a 30-metre freekick against the bar in an early show of Chelsea intent but it was Spurs who went ahead when Sandro's swerving 25-metre effort flew into the top corner.
The Brazilian ran to Harry Redknapp to celebrate but instead the manager seemed to tell him off for drifting too far forward from the defensive midfield role he had marked him down for.
Chelsea equalised just before the break when Lampard's speculative shot squeezed through the body of Heurelho Gomes.
The error-prone Brazilian goalkeeper spun round immediately, reached out a hand and appeared to stop the ball before it completely crossed the line but the officials awarded a goal.
Lampard, who had a goal disallowed for England against Germany in last year's World Cup when it had clearly crossed the line, was not about to argue.
Chelsea struggled to impose themselves in the second half and striker Fernando Torres, given a start after breaking his scoring duck last week, was again a peripheral figure and was eventually replaced by Kalou after 62 minutes.
The substitute was in the right place when, after Drogba had forced his way into the box only to miskick his shot, the Ivorian touched the ball into the net from what TV pictures suggested was an offside position.
“We're fighting to the end,” Lampard told Sky Sports. “We had a couple of months mid-season where we let ourselves down a bit and let things slip but we've grafted to get ourselves back in it (the title race).
“You can talk about the goals (against Spurs) and the ifs and buts but I think our character and the way we played deserved to win it.
“The one that didn't go over the line I was due one – I had a big one in the summer – but you get what you deserve, we created enough to win the game.
“United are in the driving seat but if they do slip up then we are in a position where we want to have a real go to try to do it. We've kept ourselves alive today.”