Slender victories for Chelsea and Manchester City, and a potent attacking display by Arsenal, left the top of the Premier League unchanged on Saturday.
Chelsea lead the way after captain John Terry clinched a 1-0 victory over Everton in stoppage time by bundling the ball over.
Arsenal are just a point behind their London rivals as Olivier Giroud scored twice on his return to the starting lineup in a 4-1 victory over struggling Sunderland.
Third-placed City relied on Yaya Toure’s goal to see off former manager Mark Hughes’ Stoke City 1-0 to remain three points from the summit with a game in hand.
Champions Manchester United are still 15 points from the summit, but moved up to sixth after ending a three-game winless run with a 2-0 victory at Crystal Palace.
The bottom three remains unchanged, with Sunderland, Cardiff City and Fulham in the relegation zone separated by three points.
It is tight at the top too, but at Stamford Bridge, it seemed like Jose Mourinho’s side would endure a second successive draw as Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard repeatedly thwarted them.
That was until the third minute of stoppage time, when Phil Jagielka fouled Ramires to concede a free-kick. Frank Lampard whipped the ball into the penalty area, and it seemed to brush off Branislav Ivanovic’s head before Terry appeared to nudge it into the net with the help of Howard’s body.
“When you score minute 90-something you can speak about being lucky,” Mourinho said. “The reality is that the boys chased that. We were the team that was really trying to win, which is our responsibility. We deserved it. I never thought we would score so late. I had hope that we could score a goal before that. Destiny wanted last minute.”
Fulham was the only team in the bottom three to get anything out of Saturday’s games, with a 1-1 draw against West Bromwich Albion, but the London club remains at the foot of the standings.
It was nearly the perfect start for Felix Magath as Fulham manager after Ashkan Dejagah put the London club in front at West Brom. However, goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg gifted West Brom an equalizer in the 86th when Matej Vydra’s shot slipped through his hands.
Cardiff are now just a point above Fulham after being crushed 4-0 at Hull, who climbed clear of danger as Nikica Jelavic scored twice between strikes from Tom Huddlestone and Jake Livermore.
At Upton Park, West Ham United’s remarkable revival continued as they beat Southampton 3-1 to make it four successive victories.
After Maya Yoshida headed Southampton in front in the eighth, Matt Jarvis leveled in the 20th before Carlton Cole, West Ham in front within three minutes and Kevin Nolan added the third in the second half.