Cech howler frustrates Chelsea at Wigan
A late blunder by Petr Cech gifted Wigan a 1-1 draw as Chelsea dropped two vital points in the English Premier League title racetoday.
Chelsea appeared to be coasting to victory after striker Daniel Sturridge fired the Blues ahead on 59 minutes with a well-taken finish.
But with just two minutes of normal time remaining, Chelsea keeper Cech fumbled Hugo Rodallega's low cross and could only watch in horror as Wigan midfielder Jordi Gomez prodded home the equaliser.
Cech's error prevented Chelsea from recording a fourth consecutive league victory and will reawaken concerns about the Londoners defensive frailties.
The draw left third-placed Chelsea six points adrift of league leaders Manchester City, who play Arsenal on Sunday.
Wigan made a strong start, with Cech struggling to deal with a simple long ball and Gomez going down in the area under Ashley Cole's challenge.
But Sturridge was soon threatening for Chelsea, producing a dangerous cross from the right that was desperately cleared by Gary Caldwell.
Captain John Terry picked the ball up from Juan Mata and surged forward before hitting a 30-yard drive that flew just past Ali Al Habsi's goal.
Midfielder Oriol Romeu also tested Al Habsi with a low shot that was pushed away by the Omani goalkeeper.
Frank Lampard, who was recalled to the starting line-up in the place of the injured Ramires, also almost created an opening for Mata with a clever throughball.
But for all their possession and patience, the visitors were struggling to create good opportunities.
They had a scare when Cech failed to deal with a corner from Dave Jones and Mohamed Diame also went close with a driven shot from the left flank.
Didier Drogba finally threatened when he beat Caldwell to a Raul Meireles cross but saw his header drop the wrong side of the post.
As Wigan pressed once again, promising young winger Victor Moses saw his drive bounce away off Branislav Ivanovic's arm but referee Martin Atkinson waved away the appeals for a penalty.
Meireles also had a thumping shot deflected wide of goal just before half-time before Moses failed to get a touch on a cross to the far post from Connor Sammon.
Villas-Boas brought on Salomon Kalou at the interval in the place of Romeu for just his second appearance since August.
And shortly after the restart Diame saw another powerful effort fly past Cech's goal before Maynor Figueroa forced a low save from the Chelsea goalkeeper.
Caldwell also did well to glance a header to safety with Drogba looking the favourite to reach Jose Bosingwa's cross.
As Wigan continued to create the better chances, Moses controlled the ball in the area but then wasted the opening with a wild effort that flew well wide of goal from a narrow angle.
But Chelsea showed a ruthless streak when they finally created a clear opportunity.
Cole's long ball forward was misjudged by Figueroa, allowing Sturridge to get in behind the Wigan defence and find the net with a fierce shot that flew in at the far corner.
As Wigan looked for a response, Jones saw a powerful strike fly past the top corner and Figueroa broke forward to have another drive pushed away by Cech.
Republic of Ireland midfielder James McCarthy also drove wide of the near post after a Jones corner was allowed to run all the way across the Chelsea area.
Cech was alert to come out and block from Rodallega after slack defending by Ivanovic before Cole managed a well-timed block from Franco Di Santo's follow up.
But Wigan pulled level with just three minutes left when Cech fumbled Rodallega's cross and Gomez fired in from close range.
Blackburn 1 (Dann 72) West Brom 2 (Morrison 52, Odemwingie 89)
Everton 1 (Osman 81) Norwich 1 (Holt 28)
Fulham 2 (Dempsey 32, Ruiz 34) Bolton 0
Newcastle 0 Swansea 0
Wigan 1 (Gomez 88) Chelsea 1 (Sturridge 59)
Wolves 1 (Hunt 17-pen) Stoke 2 (Doyle 58-og, Crouch 70)
QPR v Manchester Utd
Aston Villa v Liverpool
Tottenham v Sunderland
Manchester City v Arsenal