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Leader Chelsea grabs late winner against Everton

(AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

By ROB HARRIS

AP Sports Writer

LONDON (AP) Chelsea captain John Terry scored a late winner to break Everton's resistance for a 1-0 win Saturday that keeps the Premier League leader at the top of the table.

Frank Lampard's free kick in the third minute of stoppage time brushed off Branislav Ivanovic's head down to Terry, who was primed in front of goal. And the center back appeared to get a touch before goalkeeper Tim Howard's body helped the ball into the net rather than blocking it.

Until that point, Howard had pulled off a succession of saves to repel Chelsea. There was a triple-block on the hour to deny Eden Hazard, Samuel Eto'o and Branislav Ivanovic in quick succession.

But Chelsea will now end the weekend on top, staying a point in front of Arsenal, which beat Sunderland 4-1.

"We just want to try to keep the position and not give it up," Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said. "We have to fight, we have to play and of course it's a good feeling to win in the end.

"The players did everything. We have some limitations - that's obvious - but the team wanted to win. They tried everything."

The scrambled winner avoided a second straight draw for Chelsea, having conceded a late equalizer at West Bromwich Albion in the Blues' last league match. Chelsea felt this late winner helped to make amends.

"Recently dropping points away to West Brom, it's important to pick up three points at home," Terry said. "We're top of the league and sitting well. It's down to the others now to catch us."

The game was played at a frantic pace from the start, with Everton more combative than the hosts initially. Resolute defending by Gary Cahill and the returning Terry prevented the visitors from finding a gap to breach the Chelsea back line.

An early effort from Leon Osman was tipped over by Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech, but the cutting edge was missing from the Everton attack.

Even though Chelsea was at times more dangerous up front, Howard had little trouble saving from Cesar Azpilicueta and Samuel Eto'o before the break.

"In the first half we were, by a mile, the most threatening team," Everton manager Roberto Martinez said. "In the second half, as you'd expect, a little bit of momentum from Chelsea."

It was a more commanding Chelsea that re-emerged in the second half, with Lampard seeing a shot saved, then a follow-up blocked by Sylvain Distin.

After Howard's triple save, Mourinho brought on Fernando Torres, but the closest the striker came to netting was a volley that was diverted away from goal by teammate Hazard.

It seemed to epitomize Chelsea's frustrations with Andre Schurrle, who replaced Eto'o, then slicing over rather than controlling Ivanovic's cross.

But then Phil Jagielka conceded a free kick deep into stoppage time following a challenge on Ramires - and Lampard, Ivanovic and Terry created the winner. It was unclear which Chelsea player had the final touch, but there was no disputing the final score.

"Great ball from Lamps. (I) just managed to get a touch on it and I think it came off Howard in the end as well, but (I'm) delighted with the win and the three points," Terry said.

It leaves Everton, with four points from five games, in sixth place.

"It's a very unfair result for us not to get anything out of this game after that performance that we've had," Martinez said.

Updated February 22, 2014

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