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West Ham Utd 1 Chelsea 1

Filed: Sunday, 20th December 2009
By: Staff Writer

A battling Chelsea held West Ham to a draw in this afternoon's Premier League London derby - but had to rely on a contentious linesman's decision in order to snatch a point.

West Ham, frankly awful in recent outings defied the odds, as they have so often in years gone by in fixtures such as these with a performance that belied their lowly league position and gave the champions elect a real scare at the Boleyn this afternoon.

Chelsea - who remain top of the pile this evening despite losing what they will no doubt consider to be two dropped points - were harried and unsettled throughout by an industrious Irons side, and having gone behind to a first half Alessandro Diamanti penalty can consider themselves somewhat fortunate to have earned the opportunity to restore parity in the same manner.

Not for the first time this season - and certainly not for the first time with referee Mike Dean - West Ham were undone by a poor decision from the match official. Matthew Upson's finely-timed challenge on substitute Daniel Sturridge in the 61st minute was somehow deemed to have been a foul by the errant linesman, who signalled for a penalty.

Dean, who clearly hadn't seen the incident took his assistant's advice and awarded the penalty much to the fury of West Ham, whose player's surrounded the linesman, all to no avail. Ex-Hammer Frank Lampard levelled - at the third opportunity following a farcical situation whereby encroachment caused the spot kick to be re-taken twice - and the Blues escaped with a point that they barely deserved.

West Ham, who would have gone into Christmas bottom of the Premier League had they lost today were rewarded for their enterprise in the closing moments of the first half when Jack Collison was sent tumbling in the area by a mistimed tackle from Ashley Cole.

Alessandro Diamanti, who continues to infuriate as much as he inspires cooly sent Petr Cech the wrong way to give the Irons a lead they just about deserved on balance of play. Sadly, it was one that they failed to capitalise on - as has often been the case since the current campaign began.

Yet again there was more injury woe for Zola to contend with; Danny Gabbidon, who has only recently begun putting a two-year injury nightmare behind him limped off midway through the first half with a hamstring injury that looks set to keep him on the sidelines into the New Year.

Still, the under-pressure manager will no doubt look back on this afternoon's game as a good day's work, gaining a point that few would have expected but most would have taken. However the real job begins here on Boxing Day when bottom club Portsmouth, who beat Liverpool 2-0 yesterday, visit the Boleyn for what promises to be a real Christmas cracker.

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by Mike
09:25AM 21st Dec 2009
''Terrible decision from the lino. The referee must be 100% convinced that it is a penalty or he should not give it. The fact that he didn't think it was a penalty but was swayed by the linesman defeats the laws of the game.

Scott Parker was absolutely imperious. Outstanding. Fantastic support as well, need more of the same come Pompey.''

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