LONDON – Tim Cahill’s late goal lifted Everton to a 1-1 draw at Middlesbrough on Sunday, moving the Toffies to within three points of Manchester United.
Boudewijn Zenden’s first goal in two months gave ‘Boro a 1-0 first-half lead.
With the Premier League title nearly conceded to Chelsea, the race for the next five spots has become the focus.
‘There’s a long way to go and, of course, Chelsea’s in a fantastic position,’ Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger acknowledged. ‘They (Chelsea) can only lose it now.’
Chelsea padded its first-place lead to 10 points on Saturday with a 2-0 win at Tottenham. Arsenal, following a 1-0 loss at Bolton, has 48 points, followed by Manchester United with 47, Everton with 44, Liverpool with 37 and Middlesbrough with 36.
In a late match on Sunday, Fulham got an injury-time goal from Papa Bouba Diop to beat last-place West Bromwich Albion 1-0 at Craven Cottage.
The Baggies stayed on the bottom with 13 points, topped by Southampton with 15 and Norwich with 16. Fulham moved up to 25 points and into 15th place, just above Blackburn.
Zenden scored for ‘Boro in the 26th minute when Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink carved open the Everton defense with a perfect pass, which Zenden directed behind Everton goalkeeper Richard Wright.
Cahill salvaged the point for Everton, scoring in the 76th. The match was the first for the Toffies since Thomas Gravesen’s move to Real Madrid.
‘He is a big loss for us. He is a world class player,’ Everton midfielder Kevin Kilbane said of Gravesen. ‘His distribution was magnificent and it’s a big blow to lose him.’
West Brom had a half-dozen chances to score in the first half, and almost got the winner in the 86th when a ball deflected off new striker Kevin Campbell and just missed going into the net.
Fulham broke through 30 seconds into injury time when the Senegal striker scored on an 8-meter (yard) header off a corner.
Also Saturday in the Premier League, it was: Aston Villa 3, Norwich 0; Charlton 3, Birmingham 1; Liverpool 0, Manchester United 1; Manchester City 3, Crystal Palace 1; Newcastle 2, Southampton 1; and Portsmouth 0, Blackburn 1.
Frank Lampard scored twice in Chelsea’s win at Tottenham on a disputed first-half penalty, then an injury-time goal.
‘We said from the start our intention is to win the Premier League, and we’re looking forward to the next match,’ Lampard said.
Defending champion Arsenal slumped at Bolton on a first-half goal by Stelios Giannakopoulos. It was Arsenal’s third loss in the league this season – the Gunners also lost to Manchester United and Liverpool – but this one could be decisive.
Manchester United closed to within one point of the Gunners with a 1-0 victory at Liverpool. United got a fortunate first-half goal from Wayne Rooney, and survived the last 25 minutes a man short.
United’s victory overshadowed the Liverpool debut of striker Fernando Morientes, who transferred from Real Madrid on Wednesday for US$11.8 million.