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Monday, Dec. 19, 2011

Cech's blunder costs Blues crucial points


LONDON — Chelsea missed the chance to put pressure on the Manchester clubs at the top of the Premier League on Saturday, conceding with two minutes remaining to draw 1-1 at relegation-threatened Wigan.

News photo
Opportunity lost: Chelsea's John Terry (right) vies for the ball against Wigan's Victor Moses during their Premier League match on Saturday. The match ended in a 1-1 draw. AP

Despite a poor performance, Chelsea looked on course for a fourth straight Premier League win when Daniel Sturridge scored his eighth goal of the season in the 59th minute. But Wigan dominated the second half and Jordi Gomez tapped in from close range after a mistake by Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech.

Sturridge put Chelsea ahead with a close-range finish from Ashley Cole's pass and Wigan seemed unable to breach a defense good enough to help the Blues hand Manchester City its first defeat of the Premier League season on Monday.

But Cech fumbled a weak effort from Hugo Rodallega and Gomez guided the ball into an empty net for his fourth goal in five games.

The result left Chelsea with 32 points from 16 matches, four behind second-place Manchester United and six behind longtime leader City.

"It is a disappointing result," Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas said. "It was a hard-fought game with many chances on both sides, maybe more from Wigan. They fought hard to get the result here.

"I think Wigan had the momentum and the crowd was behind them and they got the goal they deserved — 1-1 was a fair result."

The draw left Wigan in the relegation zone with Blackburn and Bolton, which remained anchored to the bottom of the Premier League after a 2-0 loss at Fulham.

Two weeks after becoming the most prolific American scorer in England's top division, Fulham forward Clint Dempsey scored his 38th Premier League goal — and fifth this season — with a 32nd-minute header from Bryan Ruiz's cross.

Dempsey has eight goals in all competitions this season and three in his last four games.

"He scores so many goals," Fulham manager Martin Jol said. "I'm very happy with him."

Costa Rica forward Ruiz chipped goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen two minutes later as Fulham left Bolton with only nine points from 16 games, one fewer than a Blackburn side that lost 2-1 against visiting West Bromwich Albion.

Peter Odemwingie scored West Brom's winning goal with just a minute remaining.

Wolverhampton Wanderers is still just one place and one point above the relegation zone after conceding two second-half goals to lose 2-1 against Stoke. Wolves led through a 17th-minute penalty but Kevin Doyle's own-goal and the 99th league goal of Peter Crouch's career clinched Stoke's fourth straight Premier League win.

Japan gets U-20 event


The Women's Under-20 World Cup will be held in Japan next summer instead of Uzbekistan as originally planned, Kyodo News learned on Saturday.

The decision was approved at an executive board meeting by soccer's world governing body FIFA, a FIFA executive board member and other sources said.

It will be the first time Japan will host a women's soccer tournament sponsored by FIFA and a formal announcement is expected on Monday or later.

The U-20 Women's World Cup is one tier below the senior tournament.

This past summer, Nadeshiko Japan' beat the United States in the Women's World Cup final on penalties in Germany to capture the title for the first time.

The Japan Football Association had since expressed its eagerness to FIFA to host a Women's World Cup to further promote the sport.

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