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Thursday, Feb. 4, 2010

Chelsea misses chance to extend lead in league standings

LONDON (AP) Chelsea missed the chance to go four points clear at the top of the English Premier League with a 1-1 draw at Hull on Tuesday.

Defender Steven Mouyokolo gave Hull a surprise lead in the 30th minute and, although Didier Drogba equalized 12 minutes later with his 20th goal of the season, Chelsea was unable to convert concerted pressure into more goals.

The draw left Chelsea on 55 points, three clear of defending champion Manchester United. Both teams have played 24 games, the same as third-place Arsenal, which was another four points back and at Chelsea on Sunday.

Chelsea had already missed a couple of chances when Mouyokolo got his first goal for Hull. The central defender outjumped a cluster of Chelsea defenders including John Terry to head in a 29th-minute corner by Stephen Hunt.

But Chelsea continued to press and Drogba, playing his first Chelsea game in a month following his stint at the African Cup of Nations with Ivory Coast, scored direct from a free kick just outside the area.

Jozy Altidore missed with a headed chance for Hull and teammate Amr Zaki troubled the visiting defense, but Drogba missed at the other end as the home team held on for a valuable point in its fight against relegation.

Hull was still in the relegation zone but was level on 21 points with the three teams immediately above it.

Also on Tuesday, Premier League strugglers Wolverhampton Wanderers and Wigan were knocked out of the F.A. Cup after losing fourth-round replays to lower-league sides.

Crystal Palace defender Danny Butterfield scored a hat trick in seven second-half minutes to give the League Championship side a 3-1 win over Wolves, while Wigan was humiliated 2-0 by visiting Notts County of the fourth tier.

Terry free to leave

LONDON (AP) Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti is willing to give captain John Terry time away from the team if he needs to sort out issues regarding his private life.

Terry, a married father-of-two, is facing intense media scrutiny after a report that he allegedly had a relationship with former teammate Wayne Bridge's ex-partner Vanessa Perroncel.

Ancelotti said Tuesday that if Terry "needs a holiday I will give him a holiday. If he doesn't need a holiday then he will play against Cardiff."

That F.A. Cup fifth-round match against second-tier Cardiff on Feb. 13 is seen as the most likely match Terry could miss. The Premier League leaders host third-place Arsenal in a crucial match on Sunday.

Celtic falls flat

GLASGOW , Scotland (AP) Celtic lost more ground on Scottish Premier League leader Rangers in a 1-0 loss at struggling Kilmarnock on Tuesday.

Celtic gave a debut to striker Robbie Keane just a day after the Ireland captain joined on loan from English club Tottenham but Kilmarnock secured just its fourth win of the season when Chris Maguire scored a 53rd-minute goal.

Second-place Celtic stayed 10 points behind Rangers.

"We're trying to put a team together that can be successful long term," Celtic manager Tony Mowbray said. "There were flashes tonight but it didn't run for us."

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