Essien's late goal lifts Chelsea to draw with Arsenal

December 10, 2006

LONDON -- Michael Essien scored off a long shot in the 84th minute, sending Chelsea to a 1-1 tie against Arsenal in the Premier League on Sunday. Mathieu Flamini put Arsenal ahead in the 78th off a pass from Alexander Hleb. Essien then evened the score with a shot that went in off the inside of the post at Stamford Bridge.

"The goal was tremendous, unbelievable," Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said. "We were losing at home with five minutes to go, but we had an incredible reaction and should have won the game." Essien and Frank Lampard nearly won it for Chelsea during injury time. Essien hit the crossbar from right in front of goal, and Lampard then hit the post. The result gives Manchester United an eight-point lead at the top of the standings, but with one more game played than Chelsea. Man United, which beat Manchester City 3-1 on Saturday, has 44 points, followed by Chelsea with 36. Arsenal has 26 points. Chelsea dominated much of the fast-paced game, with Lampard also hitting the post earlier and Essien having a shot cleared off the line by Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas. Chelsea defender Ashley Cole, facing his former club for the first time since his acrimonious transfer in August, was shown a yellow card for a tackle on Hleb midway through the first half. Arsenal hasn't beaten the Blues since Jose Mourinho became manager in June 2004 -- the last win came earlier that year at Stamford Bridge.

"I do not look at Chelsea," Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said. "I do not look at Man United. I look at my team." Italy
ROME -- Inter Milan tied a team record with its eighth straight win in the Italian league, beating Empoli 3-0. Hernan Crespo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Walter Samuel scored in the second half for Inter, which leads the league with 39 points. Crespo put back a rebound after Ibrahimovic's header had hit the crossbar in the 61st. Ibrahimovic then scored with a shot off the post in the 79th, and Samuel headed in his second goal of the season in the 87th off a cross from Nicolas Burdisso. Inter previously won eight straight league games on three different occasions.

AS Roma, in second place with 32 points, fell further behind in second place after a 3-0 loss to city rival Lazio. Cristian Ledesma, Massimo Oddo and Massimo Mutarelli scored for Lazio. AC Milan continued to struggle and was held to a 0-0 tie by Torino. Milan striker Alberto Gilardino missed a penalty kick in the 79th minute. Catania moved into fourth place with a 1-0 win over Udinese. Gionatha Spinesi headed in the lone goal in the 68th minute for the promoted Sicilian club.

Germany
BERLIN -- Schalke earned a share of first place in the Bundesliga with a 3-1 win over Borussia Dortmund. Christian Pander curled in a free kick in the 14th minute, Kevin Kuranyi scored with a header in the 25th and Peter Loevenkrands rolled in the third goal in the 44th. Werder Bremen, which leads Schalke on goal difference with 33 points, beat Eintracht Frankfurt 6-2 Saturday. Stuttgart, two points behind, and Bayern Munich, three back, also won. After next week's games, the Bundesliga will take a one-month winter break.

Spain
MADRID -- Athletic Bilbao beat Recreativo Huelva 4-2 in the Spanish league, getting two goals from Ismael Urzaiz. Bilbao's second win of the season, and first at home, moved the Basque team out of the relegation zone. Recreativo defender Dani Bautista gave Athletic the lead in the sixth minute with an own-goal, and Urzaiz then scored two in a row to make it 3-0. Joseba Garmendia then added another before Ikechuckwu Uche and an own-goal by Athletic defender Josu Sarriegi gave Recreativo's its goals.

Espanyol extended its unbeaten run to 10 with a 2-1 win over Atletico Madrid. Raul Tamudo and Luis Garcia had a goal each for Espanyol while Fernando Torres scored for Atletico. Netherlands
AMSTERDAM -- Ajax was held to a 2-2 tie by visiting AZ Alkmaar in the Dutch league, leaving the Amsterdam team in third place. Johnny Heitinga gave Ajax the lead with a free kick in the 35th minute, but Shota Arveladze tied the score in the 51st and David Mendez da Silva gave AZ a 2-1 lead 5 minutes later. Klaas Jan Huntelaar scored the final goal in the 75th by heading in a cross from George Ogararu. AZ has not won in Amsterdam in 26 years, but the team stayed one point ahead of Ajax in the standings. PSV Eindhoven, which beat FC Groningen 2-0 Saturday, leads the league with 43 points. AZ is next with 36 points, followed by Ajax with 35. Scotland
GLASGOW -- Celtic maintained its 16-point lead in the Scottish Premier League by beating Dunfermline 2-1. Aiden McGeady and Maciej Zurawski scored a goal each for the defending champions, who lead the league with 47 points. Rangers and Aberdeen are next with 31 points each.

France
PARIS -- Lille missed a chance to move into second place in the French league after being held to a 2-2 tie by visiting Saint-Etienne. Mathieu Bodmer and Abdelkader Keita scored for the hosts. Brazilian forward Araujo Ilan scored twice for Sanit-Etienne.

Greece
ATHENS -- Olympiakos increased its lead to five points in the Greek league after coming back to defeat Egaleo 3-2. Itaniel Scezarek gave Egaleo a 2-0 lead with goals in the 22nd and 50th minutes, but Yiannis Okkas, Julio Cesar and Felix Borja gave the defending champions the win. Olympiakos leads the league with 36 points, five more than both AEK Athens and Panathinaikos. AEK played to a 0-0 tie at Xanthi, and Panathinaikos stopped Larissa 1-0 Saturday.


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press