Chelsea were frustrated by West Ham in a goalless draw which left Jose Mourinho's three points behind the Barclays Premier League leaders, Manchester City.
Mourinho had played down his side's title chances this term and he subsequently witnessed a seven-game winning run coming to an end at the hands of a West Ham side battling relegation. Despite leaking goals in recent weeks, the visitors were resolute.
City, Chelsea's opponents next Monday, scored nine in the two-legged Capital One Cup semi-final against Sam Allardyce's side, but the hosts last night faced a defensive wall they could not breach.
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"They were trying to win time with everything," Mourinho fumed. "With their substitutions they were taking a long time. It was football from another century. He [Allardyce] was laughing. He takes the point. After that he's a happy man and I'm a sad guy. [But] I don't think with matches like this we can sell Premier League across the world."
And it was anything but easy for his side, as Chelsea, who won 3-0 at Upton Park in November, found West Ham to be defensively resilient and organised, while also posing an early threat.
Andy Carroll slipped at the far post with Cesar Azpilicueta close to him after seven minutes and referee Neil Swarbrick was unmoved at the penalty appeals, much to Allardyce's frustration.
Oscar's curled effort was then helped on to the bar by Adrian and Petr Cech scrambled clear a James Tomkins header before Adrian saved from John Terry and Samuel Eto'o late in the first half.
Mourinho was later incensed by a Joey O'Brien tackle from behind on Willian which led to a booking for the left-back and fortunate not to make more contact and earn a red card. Despite that reprieve, West Ham did finish the game with 10 men when O'Brien departed with a damaged shoulder after an off-the-ball Gary Cahill push before a corner.
"He [Mourinho] can't take it, can he?" said Allardyce with a grin. "He can't take it because we've outwitted him. He just can't cope. He can tell me all he wants, I don't give a s****. I love to see Chelsea players moaning at the referee. It's brilliant when you get a result against him. Hard luck, Jose."
Meanwhile, Christian Benteke's second-half penalty settled a remarkable West Midlands derby as Aston Villa came from 2-0 down to edge a seven-goal thriller against West Brom 4-3. A Chris Brunt wonder strike and a Fabian Delph own goal inside the first nine minutes got the visitors off to a flyer at Villa Park but the hosts replied quickly through Andreas Weimann, Leandro Bacuna and Delph.
Youssouf Mulumbu made it 3-3 at half-time but Benteke secured only Villa's third league home win of the season from the penalty spot after the striker himself was fouled.
In the evening's other game, Adam Johnson continued his mission to single-handedly pull Sunderland to safety as 10-man Stoke were dragged back into the mix after Steven Nzonzi was sent off.
Johnson's sixth goal in as many games secured a 1-0 win - Sunderland's first in the league in six attempts at the Stadium of Light - and in the process eased them out of the relegation zone for the first time since August.