Chelsea go second as Hiddink's run continues

Chelsea 1 Man City 0
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The Independent Football

Chelsea moved within four points of Manchester United in the Premier League standings by beating Manchester City 1-0 today, and Tottenham beat Aston Villa 2-1 to climb into 11th place.

Michael Essien scored Chelsea's winner at Stamford Bridge with his second goal in two games as the Blues made it four league victories in a row since temporary coach Guus Hiddink replaced Luiz Felipe Scolari.

After Manchester United lost at home to Liverpool 4-1 Saturday, both chasing teams are four points behind the defending champion Red Devils, who have a game in hand.

"The door is a little bit open," Hiddink said. "It gives them a blow and now all depends on their calmness. Let's see how they react in the coming games, but they have a lot of experience. We have to keep winning."

Frank Lampard had the ball in the City net in the second minute but was clearly offside before his free kick led to an 18th-minute goal. He found Essien unmarked inside the City box and the Ghanaian swung at the ball, miskicked it and it looped into the net. Now fully fit after being out for six months with a knee injury, Essien also scored in Wednesday's 2-2 draw with Juventus as Chelsea reached the quarterfinals of the Champions League.

As Chelsea threatened again, Juliano Belletti's left foot shot from 25 meters (yards) struck the foot of the post and City defender Richard Dunne kicked off the line from Florent Malouda.

Tottenham's victory at Villa Park eased its relegation worries and helped north London neighbor Arsenal in the race for the fourth spot in next season's Champions League. Arsenal beat Blackburn 4-0 Saturday to climb into fourth and now is ahead of Villa on goal difference.

Spurs took the lead after only five minutes. Aaron Lennon crossed from the right, Villa goalkeeper Brad Friedel could only get one hand to the ball and it came to Jermaine Jenas, who headed home.

After Spurs survived a long spell of Villa pressure, the visitors should have gone further ahead before halftime but Friedel blocked a shot from Luka Modric. Emile Heskey almost equalized in first-half injury time, but his header hit the Spurs bar.

After Friedel had blocked a low shot from Wilson Palacios in the 50th minute, Robbie Keane's angled follow up shot appeared be to going in but Darren Bent made sure by sliding in at the far post to push the ball over the line.

Substitute John Carew hit back for Villa in the 85th but Spurs held on to move into 11th place, its highest position of the season. When manager Harry Redknapp replaced the fired Juande Ramos, Spurs were last in the standings but have taken 33 points from 21 games under the veteran coach.

Also Saturday, Everton beat Stoke 3-1, Fulham won 3-1 at Bolton, Hull and Newcastle drew 1-1, Middlesbrough and Portsmouth drew 1-1 and Wigan won at Sunderland 2-1.

West Ham hosts last-place West Bromwich Albion on Monday.