Chelsea can win title after beating Man City - Villas-Boas

By Phil McNultyChief football writer

Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas believes his side can force their way back into title contention after inflicting a first Premier League defeat of the season on leaders Manchester City.

Frank Lampard's late penalty gave Chelsea a 2-1 win at Stamford Bridge to end City's 14-match unbeaten league run, meaning their lead over Manchester United at the top of the table remains at two points.

Chelsea are seven points adrift of Roberto Mancini's side - and Villas-Boas set his sights on closing the gap further before the turn of the year.

He said: "It was a good win and it changes our challenge for the Premier League. Seven points, in this Premier League with so many teams competing for the title, is nothing. A lot of games have to be played yet.

"For our title challenge to still be alive we have to be competent through the December fixtures. I think we need to build on what we are doing. After our bad run we found confidence which grew game after game and we put on a very good show against the record-breaking league leaders."

But the Portuguese, who has come under pressure during his first season in charge at Stamford Bridge, knows there will be plenty more twists to come.

"It [winning the title] depends on what we continue to do," he added. "The reality is that there have never been so many teams competing for the title. Tottenham are competing, Liverpool are strong and solid and Arsenal are coming from the death to revive their title hopes."

The 34-year-old then denied newspaper reports he had ordered Chelsea's players to celebrate with him when they scored, saying: "I am not arrogant. I have never asked my players to come and celebrate a goal with me. Goal celebrations are for the players.

"It is incorrect and unfair. When they score they see the bench is going through the same emotions as them. Even if we are not on the pitch we want to celebrate with them."

He also revealed midfielder Juan Mata had been assigned to penalty duties, but was happy to hand over responsibility to the confident Lampard for Chelsea's 83rd-minute winner.

"Lampard spoke to Mata and he was confident," said Villas-Boas. "He was happy to let Frank take it and we are happy he put it in the back of the net."