LONDON — Chelsea kept the Premier League title race alive by beating Manchester United 2-1 on Saturday, leaving the teams tied on points with two games to go.
Michael Ballack scored the winner with a penalty in the 86th minute — his second goal of the game — after a hand ball by Michael Carrick in the penalty area.
The two teams now have 81 points, although United keeps the lead because of a better goal difference.
"We needed to win," Chelsea captain John Terry said. "All season long we've had to put up with, 'Chelsea can't play as well as Manchester United and Arsenal,' but we showed today we can play as well as anyone."
Ballack put Chelsea ahead in the 45th with a strong header from Didier Drogba's cross, before a rare blunder by Blues defender Ricardo Carvalho allowed United to equalize. Carvalho's errant back pass in the 57th went straight to Wayne Rooney, and the England striker raced clear to score.
Rooney soon left the field injured, and Chelsea won the penalty when Carrick charged down a cross by Michael Essien and the ball hit his arm.
Referee Alan Wiley at first appeared to indicate it was not a hand ball but his linesman said that it was, and Ballack calmly scored past goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar.
The teams are seven points clear of third-place Arsenal, which is at Derby on Monday.
Liverpool's slim chances of overhauling Arsenal to finish third were undermined by a 2-2 tie at Birmingham, a result that also had ramifications at the other end of the standings.
Birmingham stayed in the three-team relegation zone and its failure to win boosted Fulham's faint chances of avoiding demotion. Fulham's hopes are still alive after American goalkeeper Kasey Keller made a string of saves and his team scored three goals in the last 20 minutes to rally from 2-0 down to win 3-2 at Manchester City.