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Chelsea suffer London derby defeat

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Boa Morte's goal was enough to hand Chelsea a rare Premier League defeat

LONDON, England -- Premier League leaders Chelsea suffered their third defeat of the season after Fulham won a pulsating west London derby 1-0 to ease their relegation fears.

The champions threw everything at Fulham after defender Paulo Ferreira's clearance had cannoned against Luis Boa Morte's knee to beat Petr Cech in the 17th minute.

French defender William Gallas was sent off in stoppage time as Chelsea's frustrations, raised after Didier Drogba's goal had been controversially ruled out, boiled over in a touchline melee.

Hundreds of Fulham fans invaded the pitch after the final whistle, which could land the club in trouble with the FA.

The leaders remain on 75 points from 30 games, 12 ahead of Manchester United who have a game in hand.

Fulham, beating Chelsea for the first time in 26 years, moved up to 14th after ending a run of four successive defeats.

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said his side were confident of securing a second successive title even if United won their game in hand.

"Nine points is better for them than 12 and will maybe give them hope. I think nine points with eight matches to go is a very comfortable situation for us," said Mourinho.

The coach, so unhappy with his side's display in the first half hour that he took off Joe Cole and Shaun Wright-Phillips and introduced Drogba and Damien Duff, was left fuming when Ivory Coast striker Drogba had a goal ruled out just as Chelsea were building up a head of steam.

Drogba shot into an unguarded net after 58 minutes but was penalised for controlling the ball with his hand, referee Mike Dean denying the striker after a long consultation with his assistant.

"Everybody says it was handball, so the decision was correct," he said. "But I can promise you the linesman did not see it.

"They disallowed the goal not because what they saw but because of the pressure on them and because of the reaction of the Fulham players."

Fulham, unlucky not to gain an early penalty when John Terry appeared to scythe down Moritz Volz, were buoyed by Boa Morte's goal as they harried their opponents in midfield and denied their wingers space.

Duff did test goalkeeper Mark Crossley with a fierce angled drive but Chelsea were also grateful to Petr Cech for denying Collins John just before the break.

The second half, apart from a Mark Pembridge free kick, was all Chelsea but they found Fulham's defenders and Crossley in inspired form, epitomised when Crossley tipped away Terry's goalbound header at the death.

Fulham coach Coleman, reportedly under pressure to keep his job after his side's slump, said he had been confident of upsetting the leaders.

"We thought maybe, just maybe if we got the lads dug in, and produced an outstanding performance, that we could get a result. It all fell into place for us."

Earlier, third-placed Liverpool cruised to a 3-1 win at Newcastle, who had defender Jean-Alain Boumsong sent off six minutes after halftime.

Well-taken goals from Peter Crouch and Steven Gerrard put Liverpool in control before Shola Ameobi replied late in the first half.

Boumsong earned a straight red for hauling down Crouch and French striker Djibril Cisse made it 3-1 from the penalty spot.

Liverpool, who made six changes to the side that thrashed Fulham 5-1 in midweek, were rewarded for a bright start when England striker Crouch scored their opener after 10 minutes.

The lanky forward stole in between Peter Ramage and Boumsong to head home Dutch defender Jan Kromkamp's cross, his seventh league goal of the season.

Gerrard capped a fine Liverpool move 10 minutes before halftime with a second goal. Breaking quickly from the back, Dan Agger fed Cisse who in turn crossed for Gerrard.

The England midfielder played a one-two with Crouch and fired past Shay Given.

Newcastle striker Ameobi sent a looping header past Pepe Reina from Scott Parker's cross just before the break to restore hope for the home side but more hapless defending from Boumsong left them in the mire.

The Frenchman muffed an attempted clearance and then mistimed his desperate challenge on Crouch as the striker was about to shoot.

Referee Mike Riley showed Boumsong a straight red card and Cisse put away the penalty to make it 3-1.

Only Given denied Xabi Alonso a fourth by beating away the Spaniard's piledriver, then followed up with another superb stop save to keep out Kromkamp's volley.

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