An 88th-minute goal from Salomon Kalou earned Chelsea a controversial 2-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur at Stamford Bridge, with both the hosts' goals awarded in contentious circumstances. The victory moves Chelsea three points behind Manchester United, who have played a game less, and deals a significant blow to Spurs' hopes of playing Champions League football next season.
Chelsea, who began with Didier Drogba and Fernando Torres upfront, made the sharper start to the match - but it was Spurs who took the lead, as Sandro hammered in an unstoppable strike from 30 yards on 19 minutes.
Although there had been the odd attack from Chelsea, the visitors looked set to take a lead into the interval until Heurelho Gomes committed the latest in a long line of howlers. With seconds to go before half-time, he let Frank Lampard's long-range strike slip through his grasp and, in the eyes of the linesman, over the goalline - but replays suggested the whole of the ball had not crossed.
Despite dominating possession throughout the second period, Chelsea appeared on course to endure a frustrating afternoon until Kalou, who replays suggested was offside, diverted Drogba's mishit shot into the net. It was a bitter late blow to Spurs, who are now three points behind fourth-place Manchester City, having played a game more than Roberto Mancini's men.
Blackburn Rovers opened up a three-point gap to the relegation places with a crucial 1-0 win over Bolton Wanderers at Ewood Park, while Blackpool and Wigan Athletic could only manage home draws.
Martin Olsson was the inspiration for Rovers' rapid start and, shortly after having a shot cleared off the line, he gave the hosts a deserved lead on 20 minutes, unleashing a howitzer from just outside the area that thundered past Alan Bogdan.
Blackburn never looked entirely convincing after that point, particularly when enduring a nervy second period, but held on for only their fourth league win in 18 matches since sacking Sam Allardyce.
Meanwhile, Blackpool are above the drop zone on goal difference after a 0-0 draw with Stoke City. The stalemate marks the first occasion any side has kept a clean sheet at Bloomfield Road this season.
Following a tense opening period, Kenwyne Jones spurned a glorious chance for Stoke on the brink of half-time, slicing the ball well wide when presented with an open goal. And just after the interval it was Blackpool's turn to blow a clear-cut opportunity, as Matt Phillips' hit a point-blank volley straight at the goalkeeper.
But despite some late pressure, Blackpool were unable to force a win, leaving their Premier League position under serious threat, with trips to Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United still to come.
Wigan Athletic remain in 18th position after former Latics star Leighton Baines earned Everton a 1-1 draw at the DW Stadium.
A terrific strike from Charles N'Zogbia nudged Wigan ahead on 21 minutes, with the Frenchman pouncing on a half-cleared set-piece to curl in from 18 yards - but Everton responded well to going behind and forced a penalty, which Mikel Arteta saw saved by Ali Al-Habsi ten minutes before the break.
Wigan conceded the initiative in the second period, dropping deep into their own half, and Everton's pressure yielded another penalty. This time Leighton Baines made no mistake, stepping up on 79 minutes following Hugo Rodallega's inexplicable handball.
Ten-man West Bromwich Albion leapfrogged Aston Villa in the Premier League table by defeating their Midlands rivals 2-1 at the Hawthorns.
The Baggies got off to a disastrous start, falling behind after four minutes following an own goal from Abdoulaye Meite, who somehow contrived to deflect Stewart Downing's cross into the back of the net. West Brom's 61st-minute equaliser was similarly scrappy, with Peter Odemwingie finally netting following an almighty scramble in the penalty area - but the hosts' joy was short-lived, as Paul Scharner was shown a second yellow soon after for hauling down Stiliyan Petrov.
Villa's unbeaten Premier League record against West Brom was in tatters six minutes from time when Youssouf Mulumbu struck.
Fulham consolidated their place in the top half of the table by hammering Sunderland 3-0 at the Stadium of Light.
Steve Bruce's side dominated the first half hour but, without any fit senior strikers, they looked impotent upfront - and Fulham punished them by taking the lead on 33 minutes, as Gael Kakuta prodded the ball home from six yards, having latched onto Bobby Zamora's pass. The Cottagers' opener shone the spotlight on Lee Cattermole, who had earlier wasted a golden chance to nudge Sunderland in front.
Fulham moved closer to only their second win in the last 36 away league matches when Simon Davies made it two on 61 minutes, easing the ball into the net after meeting Steve Sidwell's cutback. And Davies put the game to bed eight minutes later, tapping in from a couple of yards after the Sunderland defence made a mess of clearing Zamora's cross.