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Jan 30, 2013

Chelsea blows 2-goal lead, ties Reading

Chelsea squandered a two-goal lead with three minutes remaining to draw 2-2 at Reading on Wednesday, virtually ending its English Premier League title hopes and piling more misery on under-fire manager Rafa Benitez.

Tottenham, meanwhile, could only manage a 1-1 draw at Norwich, and even that looked beyond the Spurs for a long while.

The European champions looked certain to win after goals by Frank Lampard and Juan Mata either side of halftime, but Adam Le Fondre scored in the 87th minute and grabbed the equalizer in the fifth minute of stoppage time.

Chelsea is 12 points behind league leader Manchester United in third with 14 games remaining, and Benitez will surely come in for more criticism with the team winning only one of its last five matches in all competitions.

The point lifted Reading out of the relegation zone on goal difference ahead of Wigan.

At Carrow Road, Wes Hoolahan converted Anthony Pilkington's cross to give Norwich a 1-0 lead in the 32nd minute, but it could not hold it and Gareth Bale produced a superb equalizer after 80 minutes. Bale tore forward with the ball at his feet from the halfway line before cracking a powerful shot into the left corner.

Fulham triumphed 3-1 in its London derby with West Ham at Craven Cottage thanks to goals from Dimitar Berbatov and Hugo Rodallega, both created by Damien Duff, and a late Joey O'Brien own goal.

Kevin Nolan brought West Ham briefly level in the 48th minute, but West Ham switched off at the back and Rodallega headed the winner a minute later when he beat three defenders and goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen to Duff's cross from the left. The late third was a bonus.

Information from Press Association and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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