Reds keep up pressure
By Graeme Bailey
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Liverpool will be delighted to have come away from West London with all three points, even though Fulham should have claimed at least a point.
Nicolas Anelka (pictured) grabbed his second goal in successive games with a clinical finish. He broke clear of the flat-footed Fulham defence after 13 minutes and saw his first effort blocked by Rufus Brevett, but he rifled home the rebound with his left foot to put The Reds ahead.
Fulham then dominated possession, but could not find a way past the ever-impressive Jerzy Dudek, who was making his comeback after a groin injury.
Liverpool stood firm and with minutes remaining punished the Cottagers with a classic counter-attack. Fulham keeper Edwin van der Saar was stood 40 yards out from his goal and he was caught out as he was beaten to Abel Xavier's long ball by Jari Litmanen, who was beat the Dutchman to the punch and blasted into the empty net.
With the exception of Liverpool's game all eyes were on the bottom-of-the-table and the relegation issue, with Bolton's clash with Blackburn the real six-pointer of the day.
Neither side will be happy with the 1-1 draw, but Blackburn will be delighted to have come from behind with only 10 men.
Their numbers were reduced after just 20 minutes when Andy Cole was shown the third red card of his career when he stamped on defender Mike Whitlow, who had challenged him from behind.
Bolton were then understandably dominant for large periods and took the lead just before half time through Rod Wallace.
The former Rangers man latched on to Henning Berg's poor back pass and made no mistake when one-on-one with Brad Friedel.
After an hour Blackburn boss Graeme Souness introduced Keith Gillespie and Damien Duff and the latter created the equaliser. His run down the left resulted in a cross which Matt Jansen volleyed on the turn to seal a crucial point for Rovers.
The point sees Blackburn remain third-bottom, but Bolton have climbed above Everton into 16th. Ipswich are very much still in the relegation mire, after they suffered a very disappointing 3-1 reversal at home to Southampton.
The Saints were always in command at Portman Road and took a deserved lead just after half time when Rory Delap struck. The Irish international had numerous chances before he finally rifled home a free kick from 30 yards. Gordon Strachan's men doubled their lead just nine minutes later when Brett Ormerod scored his first Premiership goal after good work from Matt Oakley.
Town then brought themselves back into the game after 82 minutes. A Mark Venus corner was cleared by Southampton, but Matt Holland played the ball back into the danger area and Finidi George converted from close range. However, it was Southampton who sealed the points just a few minutes later when Chris Marsden skipped past Herman Hreidarsson before slotting past Andy Marshall.
Leicester's miserable run continued as they succumbed to Middlesbrough 1-0 at The Riverside Stadium.
The only goal of the game came in the most unusual circumstances, when after just four minutes Frank Sinclair put through his own net. Lee Marshall had taken a free kick on the halfway line and he played the ball to Sinclair, who in turn played the ball back 30 yards towards Ian Walker, but the ball evaded the England man and ended up in the back of the net.
Sunderland's relegation worries increased as they went down 2-1 at Tottenham.
Gus Poyet opened the scoring after 30 minutes when he headed home a Christian Ziege corner, but then former African Player of the Year Patrick Mboma opened his Sunderland account just before the break when his latched on to Bernt Haas's cross-field pass to smash the ball through Neil Sullivan's legs.
But Peter Reid's side left empty handed as Les Ferdinand scored a 68th minute winner. The ever-dangerous Ziege created the winner, as he did the first, when he broke down the left and crossed for the unmarked Ferdinand who scored from close-range to seal the points.
A last minute winner from England's Darius Vassell means that West Ham sink two places, after the wins for Middlesbrough and Southampton.
The Hammers got off to a great start after half-an-hour when Paolo di Canio scored from the penalty spot, after Swedish stopper Olof Mellberg had brought down Jermain Defoe.
However, Graham Taylor's side showed great resolve and were level 11 minutes later when Juan Pablo Angel claimed his 15th goal of the season. England's Gareth Barry relished his midfield role and crossed for the Colombian to head low past the unlucky David James who almost kept the ball out with his right hand.
With the game looking like ending in a 1-1 draw, Villa claimed a somewhat cruel winner. Once again Barry created the chance, he played in J'Lloyd Samuel who crossed for Vassell who made no mistake from six yards out to claim his 10th of the season.
Any distant hopes Chelsea had of making the top-four were extinguished at The Valley as Charlton claimed a deserved 2-1 win.
The Addicks opened the scoring after 72 minutes when Jason Euell got on the end of Matthias Svensson's knock-down to rifle the ball past Carlo Cudicini.
Chelsea then looked to have sealed a point just seven minutes from the end when Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink crossed for Frank Lampard to volley home magnificently from 20 yards.
But, Chelsea's defence let them down again as Emmanuel Petit and William Gallas both appealed for an offside against the back-tracking Svensson, which gave Euell the chance to run through unmarked and complete the victory for Charlton.
Click below for match summaries:
Aston Villa 2-1 West Ham
Bolton 1-1 Blackburn
Charlton 2-1 Chelsea
Fulham 0-2 Liverpool
Ipswich 1-3 Southampton
Middlesbrough 1-0 Leicester
Tottenham 2-1 Sunderland