Mon, Sep 19, 2005 - Page 20 News List

Chelsea shuts out Charlton to secure six-point cushion


Hernan Crespo and Arjen Robben scored in five second-half minutes Saturday to give Chelsea a 2-0 win over second-place Charlton and open up a six-point lead in the Premier League.

Chelsea has now won its opening six matches without conceding a goal, while Charlton lost its perfect start to the season.

Starting instead of Didier Drogba, Crespo headed Chelsea into the lead in the 55th minute at The Valley and Robben drove in the second.

Chelsea has a maximum 18 points, while Charlton stays second with 12 from five.

"We are very happy with the results that we have had but we also know that we can improve our football," Robben said. "It's already getting better if you compare the first three games with the last three. We will keep working on that and of course keep winning our games."

Tottenham had a chance to go third but was held to a 1-1 tie by Aston Villa and had to hit back from going a goal down after five minutes.

James Milner, on loan from Newcastle, gave the home side the lead at Villa Park and Spurs' striker Jermain Defoe had a penalty saved by Thomas Sorensen before substitute Robbie Keane scored an equalizer 12 minutes from the end. Spurs moved up one place to sixth while Villa climbed five places to 11th.

Marlon Harewood got West Ham's first goal in a 2-1 victory at Fulham and almost claimed the second.

Fresh from scoring a hat trick last time out in Monday's 4-0 victory over Aston Villa, Harewood had already scored once when another of his shots hit the post and bounced off goalkeeper Tony Warner before going in.

"Marlon has got his reward for his work," said Hammers' manager Alan Pardew, whose team is now fourth. "He has to play at 100 percent. He did on Monday and he did today and got his goals and that isn't luck that's just him working to his maximum."

West Ham was only promoted to the Premier League when it won last season's League Championship playoffs, but is now fourth after three wins from five games.

"We're playing with a real exuberance," Pardew said. "We were very strong individually at the back and at the moment I am very pleased."

Last-place Sunderland, promoted last season, appeared to be on its way to its first Premier League victory since December 2002 until an equalizer by West Bromwich Albion midfielder Zoltan Gera in the third minute of injury time captured a 1-1 tie.

Gary Breen had headed the Black Cats ahead after seven minutes at the Stadium of Light but Gera's late header halted the Baggies' three-game losing streak.

At least the tie ended Sunderland's run of 20 straight Premier League losses dating back to Jan. 18, 2003.

"I can't take a great deal out of the game with what's happened in the last minutes," said Sunderland manager Mick McCarthy. "There's a great deal of pressure out there -- wanting to win for themselves, for the club, for the fans.

"It was just getting over the line and then somebody not concentrating, not marking properly and the ball's ended in the back of our net. The dressing room is very, very down, very disappointed."

Birmingham's Nicky Butt was sent off in the final minute of the first half but his team held on for a 1-1 tie at Portsmouth.

Lomana LuaLua put Pompey ahead in the fourth minute only for Czech midfielder Jiri Jarosik to level the scores two minutes later. Tottenham's game at Aston Villa kicked off later.

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