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Cech's error proves costly for Chelsea

updated 3:40 PM EST, Sat December 17, 2011
Jordi Gomez scores Wigan's equalizer against Chelsea at the DW Stadium on Saturday.
Jordi Gomez scores Wigan's equalizer against Chelsea at the DW Stadium on Saturday.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Third-placed Chelsea concede late equalizer against Premier League strugglers Wigan
  • Mistake by goalkeeper Petr Cech gives Jordi Gomez an easy chance to level
  • Saturday's draw means Manchester clubs can pull further ahead later this weekend
  • Tottenham can reclaim third place with victory against Sunderland on Sunday

(CNN) -- Chelsea's English Premier League title hopes suffered a big blow on Saturday as a costly error by goalkeeper Petr Cech allowed lowly Wigan to snatch a 1-1 draw.

The London club had seemed set for a second victory inside a week following Monday's morale-boosting win over leaders Manchester City, who host Arsenal on Sunday.

But now Andre Villas-Boas' team face the prospect of dropping seven points behind second-placed champions Manchester United, who can move above their local rivals with victory at Queens Park Rangers in Sunday's early kickoff.

"It is a disappointing result," the Portuguese manager said. "I think Wigan had the momentum and the crowd was behind them and they got the goal they deserved -- 1-1 was a fair result.

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"We didn't get the three points we thought we could get, but we have to continue to fight and get back to good results."

Chelsea, who will face Napoli in the last 16 of the European Champions League, took the lead just before the hour when young striker Daniel Sturridge scored his fourth goal in his last five league games and eighth overall.

The 22-year-old, who made his England debut last month, gathered a raking cross-field pass from Ashley Cole and drilled in a low shot at the far post.

Wigan, in the bottom three for most of this season, capitalized on an 88th-minute howler from Cech -- who failed to gather a tame toe-poke shot by substitute Hugo Rodallega, allowing Spanish midfielder Jordi Gomez to score his fourth goal in five matches.

In the first half, Wigan appealed in vain for a penalty when Victor Moses' shot struck Branislav Ivanovic's arm inside the box.

Chelsea have now played two more matches than fourth-placed Tottenham, who host Sunderland on Sunday and then welcome their London rivals to White Hart Lane on Thursday.

Newcastle failed to join fifth-placed Arsenal on 29 points after being held 0-0 at home by promoted Swansea on Saturday.

Stoke followed up last weekend's win over Tottenham with a 2-1 victory at Wolverhampton that consolidated eighth place.

Stephen Hunt's penalty put the home side ahead in the 17th minute, with Stoke defender Jonathan Woodgate lucky not to be sent off for a second booking after committing the foul.

Stoke leveled before the hour when Kevin Doyle put Robert Huth's free-kick through his own net, and Peter Crouch's 70th-minute header gave City a fourth successive league win.

Norwich took ninth place despite conceding a late equalizer at home to Everton, as midfielder Leon Osman's 81st-minute strike canceled Grant Holt's first-half opener.

Fulham moved above Swansea and West Bromwich Albion on goal difference after a 2-0 victory that left Bolton rock bottom.

U.S. international Clint Dempsey headed the opener just after half an hour, and then set up Costa Rica forward Bryan Ruiz for the second a minute later.

West Brom moved up to 13th with a 2-1 victory at second-bottom Blackburn, with Nigeria striker Peter Odemwingie scoring a late winner.

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