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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Apr 17, 2006

Chelsea one point from second straight title

LONDON -- Chelsea moved within a point of winning its second straight English Premier League title by beating Everton 3-0 on Monday, hours after second-place Manchester United edged Tottenham 2-1.

The Blues can win the title on Sunday if Manchester United fails to beat Middlesbrough. Otherwise, a draw against the Red Devils at Stamford Bridge on April 29 will suffice.

"It's almost, but not yet," Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said. "It's not easy for us to lose it and it's not easy for Manchester United to win it. It's not easy for them to make up the goal difference."

Chelsea leads the league with 88 points, followed by Manchester United with 79. Liverpool is third with 73.

Also on Monday, it was: Charlton 2, Portsmouth 1; Middlesbrough 2, West Ham 0; Sunderland 1, Newcastle 4; and West Bromwich Albion 0, Bolton 0.

Newcastle captain Alan Shearer may have played his last match in the Premier League. The former England striker, who had planned to retire at the end of the season, hurt his knee in a challenge and may not recover in time for any of the team's final three matches.

Shearer, 35, scored his club-record 206th goal for Newcastle before he was injured in the 71st minute.

Frank Lampard gave Chelsea the lead at Stamford Bridge in the 28th minute, and Didier Drogba made it 2-0 with a header in the 62nd. Michael Essien scored Chelsea's third in the 74th.

Earlier, Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney scored in the eighth and 36th minutes at White Hart Lane to keep his team in the chase for the title.

Tottenham midfielder Jermaine Jenas scored from close range in the 53rd after a corner from Robbie Keane was knocked down by United defender Nemanja Vidic.

Tottenham's bid to keep fourth place and the final Champions League spot was hurt by the loss. Tottenham stays fourth in the league with 61 points, four ahead of Arsenal. The two north London teams play on Saturday at Highbury in between Arsenal's Champions League semifinal matches against Villarreal.

If Arsenal wins the Champions League and finishes fifth or lower in the Premier League, the fourth-place team in the English league will play in the UEFA Cup.

Middlesbrough warmed up for its two cup finals this week with a 2-0 win over West Ham on a goal from Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and a penalty from Massimo Maccarone.

Middlesbrough travels to Romania to play Steaua Bucharest in the first leg of the UEFA Cup semifinals on Thursday, and plays West Ham in the FA Cup semifinals three days later.

Portsmouth led after Andres D'Alessandro's first-half goal, but Bryan Hughes tied it for Charlton in the 76th. Darren Bent scored the Addicks' winner to dent Pompey's bid to avoid relegation.

Portsmouth moved out of the bottom three -- where it had been since November -- with its win over Middlesbrough on Saturday. It's still in 17th place with 32 points.

West Brom failed to take advantage of Portsmouth's loss against Bolton. Diomansy Kamara had the best chance in the second half, but shot wide.

In the relegation zone, Birmingham has 29 points in 18th place, followed by West Brom with 29 and Sunderland with 12. Sunderland has already been relegated.

In the Football League Championship, Brighton, Crewe and Millwall were relegated to League One. Reading and Sheffield United have already been promoted to the Premier League next season.