Title hopes fade as Blues held by Fulham | sports | Hindustan Times
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Title hopes fade as Blues held by Fulham

sports Updated: Dec 26, 2011 23:54 IST

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Chelsea wasted a chance to close the gap on Premier League leaders Manchester City as Clint Dempsey's equaliser gave Fulham a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge on Monday.

Andre Villas-Boas's side were on course when Juan Mata put the hosts ahead in the second half, but Dempsey levelled soon after to leave the Blues 10 points behind City.

Chelsea's hopes of mounting a serious challenge for the title are starting to fade after a third successive draw and even a place in the top four can't be taken for granted as they will slip to fifth if Arsenal beat Wolves on Tuesday.

Villas-Boas handed Fernando Torres a rare start ahead of Didier Drogba and the Spanish striker went close with a fierce drive that forced a good save from David Stockdale.

After a lacklustre first half, it was Chelsea who took the lead two minutes into the second period when Spanish playmaker Mata drilled his shot past Stockdale.

Fulham were thrashed 5-0 by Manchester United last week and Mata's goal could have been the trigger for another meltdown from the Cottagers.

But Martin Jol's side hit back with an equaliser in the 56th minute as midfielder Dempsey tapped in after Bryan Ruiz got past Ashley Cole to whip over a cross that Petr Cech failed to claim. Chelsea pressed for a winner, only to see Stockdale make fine saves to deny Daniel Sturridge and Florent Malouda.