Paul Scholes and Tottenham Hotspur have set up an enthralling finish to the Premier League season after another dramatic day's football. First, Scholes, having just agreed another year's contract with Manchester United, scored a goal in injury time to win the Manchester derby 1-0 and cut Chelsea's lead at the top to a single point. It stayed that way as Chelsea were outplayed and beaten 2-1 by Spurs at a raucous White Hart Lane, the second excellent result of the day for Harry Redknapp's team, who now lead Manchester City by two points in fourth place.
Next Saturday, Spurs are away to United, who could therefore be on top of the table again before Chelsea play at home to Stoke. They will have to do so without the England captain John Terry, whose recent problems continued with a red card for two bad tackles within the space of three minutes. He had also conceded the penalty from which Jermain Defoe put Tottenham ahead. Carlo Ancelotti, while disappointed with his team's "soft" performance, refused to be dismayed, insisting: "I think every team will want to be in our place. We're top of the table and we know what we have to do. We have two games at home and one difficult one away [at Liverpool]. We don't panic now."
Chelsea appeared to have recovered from recent setbacks against Internazionale and Blackburn, but the key to the title may now be that game at Liverpool a fortnight today, which they can no longer afford to lose.
"It was not a good day for us," Ancelotti admitted. It looked like one at about 2.40pm, as a drab Manchester derby seemed destined to end goalless. Then up popped Scholes, yet again, to beat City and encourage Tottenham, whose players were watching in their lounge at White Hart Lane.
City's manager, Roberto Mancini, admitted he was "angry and disappointed" by his side's third injury-time defeat to United this season but insisted that their pursuit of a Champions' League place is alive and now hangs on Tottenham's visit there in two weeks' time.
Mancini found it difficult to put his feelings into words after Scholes' goal 17 seconds from time capped a fine display in which the midfielder dominated and curbed the attacking play which had seen City score 11 times in their two previous games. "I don't think we deserved to lose this game," Mancini said.
Sir Alex Ferguson said the title race would probably have been over today, without Scholes' goal. "It would have been very difficult," he said. "That's the quality that's part of the history of this club. We deserved to win but I didn't see a goal coming."Reuse content