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In-form Birmingham hold Chelsea

Malouda trudges off after being shown his second yellow card at Birmingham on Boxing Day.
Malouda trudges off after being shown his second yellow card at Birmingham on Boxing Day.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Leaders Chelsea held 0-0 by Birmingham at St Andrew's in English Premier League
  • Chelsea have Florent Malouda sent off in injury time for a second yellow card
  • Tottenham and Fulham are goalless at Craven Cottage
  • NEW: Liverpool beat 10-man Wolves 2-0 in late kickoff with Steven Gerrard and Yossi Benayoun scoring
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(CNN) -- Birmingham extended their unbeaten English Premier League run to 10 games as they held leaders Chelsea 0-0 at St Andrew's in the early kick off on Boxing Day.

Chelsea could not find their way past home goalkeeper Joe Hart, who was named man of the match for some key saves, and to add to their worries Florent Malouda was sent off for a second yellow card in injury time.

The Frenchman, who had wasted some of their best opportunities, made a hasty challenge on Stephen Carr, and was shown red.

With Didier Drogba and Salomon Kalou flying out to the African Nations Cup on Monday, Malouda's automatic ban will further weaken the Chelsea line-up at a critical stage of the season.

Hart enhanced his England claims with some excellent saves, but paid tribute to his defensve line for their superb recent run.

"It's one of the first games I've actually had something to do," he told ESPN.

Chelsea are now five points clear of defending champions Manchester United, who can cut the gap to two points with victory at Hull on Sunday -- when third-place Arsenal are at home to fourth-place Aston Villa.

In other action on Saturday, Tottenham drew 0-0 at Fulham to remain fifth.

It's one of the first games I've actually had something to do
--Birmingham goalkeeper Joe Hart

Mark Schwarzer denied Spurs three points with a late double save, stopping Peter Crouch's long-range volley and then keeping out Jermaine Jenas's effort on the follow-up.

But Tottenham's Heurelho Gomes was also busy as the home side shaded the play in a battle of two teams eyeing European football next season.

Gomes twice kept out in-form home striker Bobby Zamora, while Fulham's United States international Clint Dempsey struck the crossbar in the first half.

Late on, Damien Duff had a golden chance to win three points for the home team, but shot just wide.

Birmingham might have been ahead in the first half against the leaders as striker Christian Benitez had a close-range effort ruled out for offside when he appeared to be played onside by a prone Drogba, who was lying injured in his penalty area.

Chelsea's best effort came right at the end of the first half when central defender Alex smashed a 30-meter free kick against the post.

Carlo Ancelotti replaced Daniel Sturridge with Salomon Kalou in the 68th minute and the Ivory Coast striker, miskicked with a clear chance in front of goal and then was denied by Hart.

Malouda was also guilty of a glaring miss before his late dismissal.

Ancelotti was disappointed with the outcome and saw it as a missed opportunity to stretch their lead over the other title chasers.

"It is not a good result for us," Ancelotti told Sky Sports News.

It is not a good result for us
--Carlo Ancelotti

"We are disappointed with the result but not for the performance of the team. We played well."

West Ham eased some of their relegation pressure with a 2-0 win over bottom club Portsmouth while Benni McCarthy's opener helped Blackburn draw 1-1 at Wigan.

It also ended 1-1 between Everton and Sunderland, who took the lead through England international Darren Bent's 11th of the season. Marouane Fellaini leveled.

The Lancashire derby between home side Burnley and Bolton saw the teams share two goals with the visitors staying in the drop zone.

But Liverpool later grabbed a much-needed 2-0 home won over Wolves in the evening kickoff.

Wolves came closest to opening the scoring in the first half as Kevin Doyle went close, but they had Stephen Ward sent off on the hour mark.

Liverpool took full advantage with captain Steven Gerrard scoring two minutes later and Yossi Benayoun getting the second in the 70th minute. The victory takes them up to seventh in the English standings.