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Monday, January 2, 2006
Crespo helps Chelsea to 14-point lead

LONDON -- Hernan Crespo scored within seconds of entering as a substitute to help defending champion Chelsea to a 14 point-lead in England's Premier League with a 3-1 victory Monday at West Ham.

Liverpool's 10-game winning streak ended with a 2-2 draw at Bolton, leaving Rafa Benitez's third-place team 17 points behind Chelsea.

The Hammers were holding the Chelsea at 1-1 at Upton Park when manager Jose Mourinho sent in the Argentine striker for winger Damien Duff. The switch worked immediately, with Crespo pushing the ball past goalkeeper Roy Carroll with his first touch and rolling it into an empty net with his second.

Didier Drogba added a goal with 10 minutes to go. Midfielder Frank Lampard had put Chelsea ahead against his former club before Marlon Harewood made it 1-1.

"To score against my former club is something I have been looking forward to doing," Lampard said. "It was very special, but at the end of the day the three points is what we needed."

Second-place Manchester United, 14 points behind Chelsea, was idle. Man U plays Tuesday at Arsenal.

Despite his team's big lead in the standings, Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho was upset because midfielder Michael Essien was hurt early in the game on a challenge by West Ham's Nigel Reo-Coker.

"We have to wait for news on Essien," Mourinho said. "We have to wait for scans and X-rays. All I know is that he cannot walk and his ankle is swollen.

"I don't want speak about Reo-Coker, but I can imagine what would be said if it had been the other way around."

Fulham rallied to beat last-place Sunderland 2-1, with American forward Brian McBride assisting on the first goal, and next-to-last-place Birmingham eased its relegation worries by beating fifth-place Wigan 2-0.

Everton and Aston Villa also moved farther from relegation trouble with victories. Everton beat Charlton 3-1, and Aston Villa defeated West Bromwich Albion 2-1. Newcastle and Middlesbrough tied 2-2.

Blackburn rallied to defeat Portsmouth 2-1 and moved up to eighth. Fourth-place Tottenham goes to Manchester City on Wednesday.




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