LONDON • Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur got their English Premier League title push back on track yesterday, as Chelsea made a dramatic comeback to draw 3-3 against Everton with skipper John Terry saving their blushes.
Though Chelsea remain unbeaten in seven matches since Jose Mourinho was sacked near Christmas, the flaws that surfaced during their dismal first half of the season resurfaced at Stamford Bridge, with Hiddink's side guilty of conceding three sloppy goals and Diego Costa once again apparently intent on staging a running battle with his opponents.
After an uneventful first half, Terry made a total hash of trying to clear Leighton Baines' low cross and ended up getting his feet in a tangle and putting the ball into his own net in the 52nd minute.
Four minutes later, Kevin Mirallas doubled Everton's lead with a crisp shot, following another Baines cross, after Chelsea's defenders failed to close him down.
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Tottenham 4 Sunderland 1
Chelsea 3 Everton 3
Newcastle 2 West Ham 1
Southampton 3 West Brom 0
Bournemouth 3 Norwich 0
Man City 4 Crystal Palace 0
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Costa gave the home side a lifeline in the 64th minute by walking the ball into the net, after a long ball by Cesc Fabregas was misjudged by Phil Jagielka. And Fabregas equalised two minutes later when his shot took a deflection and beat Tim Howard in the Everton goal.
Ramiro Funes Mori then scored from close range in the last minute to give Everton a 3-2 lead. But just when it looked like Chelsea would be consigned to another defeat at home, Terry produced the equaliser seconds later.
The draw obviously was a big relief to Hiddink, but his side are only six points above the bottom three.
At the Etihad, Manuel Pellegrini's players delivered a 4-0 win over Crystal Palace after a frustrating draw with Everton in midweek, though their front line did not have major work to do.
Their opening goal at the Etihad was a gift from Palace goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey, who let a speculative 30-metre shot from Fabien Delph squirm under his arm and into the net.
They were gifted another on 40 minutes, when Sergio Aguero's shot towards goal from 30m out was diverted by defender Scott Dann into the net.
In the second half, City were rampant, with Aguero and David Silva adding to their tally.
The win helped Pellegrini achieve his objective, the three points lifting his team provisionally to the top of the table on 43, with Leicester City scheduled to play later yesterday and Arsenal today.
Tottenham's 4-1 victory over Sunderland was important and one they deserved.
Before the game, Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce had said that the north London club did not have the nerve to challenge for the Premier League title.
Yet, despite falling behind to Patrick van Aanholt's first-half goal, Tottenham won by a comfortable margin, with Christian Eriksen (twice), Moussa Dembele and Harry Kane (penalty) finding the net.
It gives Mauricio Pochettino's side some momentum, which was punctured by the midweek loss to Leicester. They opened up a four-point lead over fifth-placed West Ham United for the fourth and final Champions League qualifying berth and provisionally closed to within four points of the summit.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN