CHELSEA boss Jose Mourinho had to sweat it out until the last moments of a Stamford Bridge tussle with 10-man Everton to take all three points and maintain the gap over Manchester City, 4-1 winners at Stoke.
James McCarthy came on as a second-half substitute for Everton and was involved in the incident which ended in Gareth Barry receiving his marching orders.
McCarthy, being weaned back into action slowly by Roberto Martinez appeared to be on the wrong end of a Branislav Ivanovic head-lunge after Barry fouled Willian and was sent off for a second bookable offence.
Willian punished Everton eventually, whacking a shot beyond Tim Howard with time almost up for a late, late winner and maximum points.
Goals from Sergio Aguero (2), James Milner and Samir Nasri put Stoke to the sword with a single goal response from Peter Crouch and allowed Manuel Pellegrini some respite from a recvent increase in pressure.
Speculation has linked Diego Simeone with the Etihad hot seat and suggested that Pellegrini's time as City boss will be up during the summer.