Everton hold Chelsea

Liverpool, December 23:

Chelsea captain John Terry was sent off for a wild challenge as the Blues missed a chance to reclaim top spot in the Premier League after drawing 0-0 at Everton.

Instead, Liverpool, who drew 1-1 at Arsenal on Sunday, remain a point ahead in the standings

thanks to their crosstown rivals’ resilience despite not fielding a recognised 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 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. Terry, who also captains England, was also sent off in the 3-1 victory at Manchester City in September, although he won an appeal against the decision.

The 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.