Charlton inflict the blues on Chelsea

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> Title-chasing Chelsea slumped to a surprise 4-2 defeat at Charlton on Friday to fall behind in the English Premiership title race.

updated: February 25, 2007 09:48 IST
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It was seventh at home to third as Charlton hosted Chelsea in an English Premiership London derby on Friday. Much was at stake for both sides with Chelsea challenging Arsenal and Manchester United for top spot while Charlton are still - to their surprise and the surprise of many others - challenging for the fourth Champions' League berth. Charlton got off to the best possible start when they took the lead after just 42 seconds. Chelsea defender John Terry failed to clear Paulo Di Canio's swinging corner and Hermann Hreidarsson rose to head the ball powerfully past goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini into the corner of the net. Scores leveled But Chelsea were level after 10 minutes when Terry made up for his earlier error. Adrian Mutu's free-kick on the left swirled into the Charlton penalty area where it was met by an delightful glancing header from Terry to leave home goalkeeper Dean Kiely with no chance. So, Chelsea level but it was Charlton who were threatening most and their endeavour paid off in the 34th minute when Jonatan Johansson stepped forward up the left. He swung over a teasing left-foot cross and this time it was captain Matt Holland who arrived to direct his header past Cudicini. Chelsea coach Claudio Ranieri threw on Icelandic striker Eidur Gudjohnsen at half-time but Chelsea were once more stung by a lightning Charlton raid after the restart. Taking lead The half was only two minutes old when Di Canio twisted and turned past the unfortunate Terry before supplying a pin-point cross which Johansson turned in at the far post. Charlton were beginning to give their illustrious neighbours a lesson and in the 53rd minute, they went even further ahead when Jason Euell exploited a defensive lapse from Wayne Bridge to slide the ball past Cudicini to give Charlton a 4-1 lead. Gudjohnsen did give Chelsea some hope when he picked up a loose ball in the penalty area in the 73rd minute to reduce the arrears with a powerful right foot shot which zipped past Charlton goalkeeper Kiely. But that was all the visitors could manage and the comprehensive defeat will have dealt a severe blow to their title hopes. (AP)