A Petr Cech blunder brought Chelsea’s recent revival to a halt on Saturday as relegation-threatened Wigan snatched a late 1-1 draw against the Londoners.
Third-placed Chelsea appeared to be coasting to a victory, which would have seen them move to within four points of leaders Manchester City after Daniel Sturridge’s 59th-minute strike put them 1-0 up at the DW Stadium.
However, with just two minutes of normal time remaining, Cech made a dreadful hash as he stooped to gather Hugo Rodallega’s low cross and Spanish midfielder Jordi Gomez was on hand to jab home the equalizer.
It was a bitterly disappointing outcome for Chelsea, who had beaten leaders City last week and who looked to be heading for a fourth consecutive league victory after Sturridge’s goal.
“It’s a disappointing result,” Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas said. “Just a few minutes from the end we conceded a goal.”
Meanwhile, Wigan boss Roberto Martinez praised his struggling side’s team spirit.
“Today the performance was perfect. This was a real reward for all the hard times over the last few months,” Martinez said.
In earlier games on Saturday, Bolton’s grim slide continued as Owen Coyle’s team crashed to a fifth consecutive loss with a 2-0 defeat at Fulham.
Bolton’s hopes of bagging a crucial three points were effectively ended midway through the first half at Craven Cottage as Fulham went 2-0 up courtesy of goals from Clint Dempsey and Bryan Ruiz.
Dempsey fired Fulham ahead on 32 minutes, the US international heading home after a fine run and cross from Ruiz.
Moments later, Ruiz made it 2-0 after latching on to Dempsey’s pass before chipping over Jussi Jaaskelainen.
Coyle later bemoaned his team’s failure to make the most of a bright start.
“We have let the opportunity pass us by and it’s getting repetitive saying the same things,” Coyle said. “It’s not like we are five or six games into the season. We’ve made some mistakes and we are in real dogfight now. Players must show passion and be ready to give better performances.”
Bolton’s Lancashire rivals Blackburn also remain anchored in the relegation mire after crashing to a 2-1 defeat at home to West Bromwich Albion, their sixth loss from eight home games this term.
West Brom’s James Morrison fired the visitors ahead on 52 minutes, lashing in a volley from the edge of the area after Steven N’Zonzi failed to clear.
Morrison’s strike was the cue for a chorus of boos as the Rovers’ miserable season continued before defender Scott Dann bundled in an equalizer on 72 minutes to get Blackburn back on level terms. Yet just as it looked as if the Rovers had salvaged a point, Peter Odemwingie curled in a long-range winner on 89 minutes to make it 2-1. The defeat was met with angry boos from Rovers fans, who have been demanding the dismissal of embattled manager Steve Kean.
Elsewhere, Stoke fought back from 1-0 down to snatch a 2-1 victory over Wolves at Molineux.
Stephen Hunt fired the Wolves ahead with a penalty on 16 minutes, but Stoke hit back with a Kevin Doyle own goal before Peter Crouch scrambled in the winner on 70 minutes.
Meanwhile, promoted Norwich continued their impressive run of form with a 1-1 draw at Goodison Park against Everton.
Grant Holt put the Canaries ahead on 28 minutes before a second half onslaught from the Toffees culminated with Leon Osman equalizing for Everton on 81 minutes.