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Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2009

Lampard holds nerve to save Chelsea draw

LONDON (AP) Frank Lampard drove home a twice retaken penalty against his former club as Chelsea came from behind to draw 1-1 at West Ham on Sunday to move four points ahead at the top of the Premier League.

After Scott Parker blocked a header from Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic on the line, West Ham went ahead in the final minute of the first half. Ashley Cole brought down Jack Collison and Alessandro Diamanti drove home the penalty.

Chelsea equalized in the 61st minute after Matthew Upson was harshly judged to have brought down Daniel Sturridge even though the West Ham defender appeared to make contact with the ball.

Lampard twice fired home the spot kick but each time had to take it again because players from both teams had run into the penalty area. He had to beat goalkeeper Green for a third time.

"I didn't need that, especially after missing one a few weeks ago," said Lampard. "In the end I was pleased to see it at last in the back of the net."

Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti put his team's low-key performance down to the rigors of playing twice a week.

"We only started playing after 45 minutes," he said. "Maybe we played without intensity, and slowly. We didn't move the ball quickly in midfield.

"It's not the best time for us but every team has problems. There are a lot of matches, every three days, and it's not easy to maintain the concentration and strength."

Chelsea's second draw of the season means that Ancelotti's team now has 41 points from 18 games. Second place Manchester United has 37 after losing 3-0 at Fulham on Saturday.

West Ham would have slipped to last with a defeat but instead moved a point ahead of Portsmouth into 19th place. Portsmouth beat Liverpool 2-0 on Saturday.

Birmingham's five-game winning streak ended with a 1-1 draw at Everton where Alex McLeish's team had to come from behind to get a point.

Diniyar Bilyaletdinov fired Everton ahead in the fifth minute but Sebastian Larsson equalized in the 22nd as Birmingham jumped above Liverpool into seventh place and stretched its unbeaten run to nine games.

Goals in each half by Nenad Milijas and Kevin Doyle lifted Wolves out of the relegation zone and up to 12th place after a 2-0 victory over Burnley, which has only captured one point in nine games away from home.

Relegated from the Premier League last season, Newcastle opened up a 10 point lead at the top of the League Championship by beating neighbor Middlesbrough 2-0 with goals by Marlon Harewood and Shola Ameobi.



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