Chelsea captain John Terry was sent off for a wild challenge on Monday as the Blues missed a chance to reclaim top spot in the Premier League after drawing 0-0 at Everton. Instead, Liverpool, which drew 1-1 at Arsenal on Sunday, remains a point ahead in the standings thanks to its crosstown rivals' resilience despite not fielding a recognized striker against Chelsea.
Goodison Park had erupted in celebration in the 84th minute when Steven Pienaar bundled the ball into the net, but the Everton midfielder was adjudged to have been offside before stealing the ball out of goalkeeper Petr Cech's hands.
The Blues looked unsettled and had three more players booked for dissent after Terry saw red for a one-footed diving lunge on Leon Osman in the 35th minute that will likely earn him a three-match ban.
"My feeling at the time was that it was a reckless challenge," Everton manager David Moyes said. "Osman is nursing a really sore ankle from the challenge, which will make him a doubt (for Middlesbrough on Friday)."
Chelsea manager Luiz Felipe Scolari was fuming in the tunnel at halftime with broadcaster Setanta claiming he shouted, "Are you afraid?" at referee Phil Dowd _ seemingly a reference to the jeers from the home crowd that followed the tackle.
Still fuming after the match, Scolari didn't want to risk being punished by the Football Association for criticizing Dowd. "The Chelsea management have a number of issues with a number of the decisions during the game and they feel it is better not to say anything that gets them into trouble," Chelsea media chief Steve Atkins told reporters.
Cech was more accepting of Dowd's decision.
"He made a decision and we have to live with that," the Czech Republic goalkeeper said.
Terry, who captains England, was also sent off in the 3-1 win at Manchester City in September, although he won an appeal against the decision.
Monday's draw, which owed much to Cech thwarting Everton's second-half aerial threat, halted Chelsea's topflight record run of 11 consecutive away wins _ eight under Scolari this season _ but the Blues have now only collected six points in their past five games. It was the second weekend in a row that Chelsea and Liverpool both drew, providing a boost to Manchester United. The defending champions, who won the Club World Cup in Japan on Sunday, are just seven points behind Liverpool with two games in hand. Chelsea had threatened after just two minutes when Ashley Cole surged forward from a defense that has conceded just once away from Stamford Bridge to draw an acrobatic save from goalkeeper Tim Howard.
Moyes was again forced to deploy Australia midfielder Tim Cahill up front, with strikers Victor Anichebe (back) and Louis Saha (hamstring) still sidelined.
But Osman provided a couple of moments of danger by whipping in crosses to the far post that Cahill and Marouane Fellaini could only meet with weak headers.
After Terry was sent off, teammate Michael Ballack rolled on the ground to make the most of Cahill catching his face. Both Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole were then cautioned for dissent as Everton's Mikel Arteta waited to take a free kick on the edge of the area. It was eventually blocked by the defensive wall and the ball broke to Joseph Yobo, but his shot was stopped by Cech's diving save.
After his halftime protests in the tunnel, Scolari brought on Didier Drogba and Branislav Ivanovic for Nicolas Anelka and Joe Cole.
Everton came out after the break determined to capitalize on its man advantage, with Fellaini, Hibbert and Joleon Lescott having headers saved by Cech.
"They had the extra man, so of course they had chances from set plays, but we can be satisfied," Cech said. "It's a pity we couldn't win. We could have been top of the league again but it's a good point."
Frustration continued to seep through the Chelsea side, with Dowd brandishing a yellow card to Ballack for complaining that Everton's wall wasn't far back enough.
Fellaini miscued a flicked back heel that crept outside the post as the home crowd held its breath. Then came the disallowed goal, with Cech initially parrying Osman's shot before retrieving the ball which Pienaar kicked out of his hands and in.
"We tried to get the goal and the players did everything we could ask," Moyes said. "Obviously, we are short of center forwards and maybe that was the difference."
Everton defender Joseph Yobo could also miss Friday's match against Boro with a hamstring injury.