Fernando Torres finally scored his first goal for Chelsea on Saturday as the champions beat West Ham United 3-0 to remain six points behind Manchester United after the leaders had beaten Everton 1-0.
The Spaniard came off the bench to score Chelsea's second six minutes from time -- his first goal in his 14th appearance for the west London club he joined from Liverpool for 50 million pounds in January.
"I have had 14 games waiting for a goal, which was not the beginning I was expecting when I signed for a massive team like this," Torres told the BBC. "There will be less pressure on me now. Now we can try and finish the season as we all want."
It was a great response by Chelsea in the title race after a late header by Mexico striker Javier Hernandez, nicknamed Little Pea, ended Everton's resistance six minutes from time at Old Trafford and briefly put United nine points ahead.
United, who visit Schalke 04 in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final on Tuesday, have 73 points to the 67 of Chelsea. Third-placed Arsenal, who travel to Bolton Wanderers on Sunday, have 64.
Manchester City, who visit Blackburn Rovers on Monday, are fourth on 56 ahead of Tottenham Hotspur with 55 after they could only draw 2-2 at home with West Bromwich Albion.
Sicth-placed Liverpool are now only three points further back after thrashing Birmingham City 5-0 at Anfield, helped by a Maxi Rodriguez hat-trick.
Everton were unbeaten in seven league games going into the match at Old Trafford but their record at the ground is dire, with their last win coming in 1992.
They were unable to end that drought on Saturday, although, well-organised and hard-working in defence, they kept United at arm's length for much of a sweltering afternoon.
United, beaten in the FA Cup semi-finals by Manchester City last weekend and held 0-0 at Newcastle United on Tuesday, cranked up the pressure in the last 15 minutes.
They got their reward when Hernandez rose well to meet an Antonio Valencia cross and power in his point-blank header.
United have now won 16 and drawn one of their 17 home league games. Victories in their next two league matches would secure the title with two games to spare but they are unlikely to be easy -- away to Arsenal and at home to Chelsea.
"Today's game was tricky. Everton are very resilient and some of their defending was fantastic," United manager Alex Ferguson told the club's website (www.manutd.com).
"We had shots blocked near the line, some misses and the goalkeeper made two or three great saves. You say to yourself: "It's going to be another late one here.' You can just smell the history of the club and so it was to be."
The day's scorching heat was replaced by a thunderstorm for the evening game at Stamford Bridge and for long periods Chelsea struggled to cope with the awkward conditions and some spirited play by their lowly London rivals.
Chelsea grabbed the first goal at the end of the first half when Frank Lampard banged in a low cross from Ashley Cole.
Centre back David Luiz rattled the bar with a 25-metre piledriver before Torres came off the bench in the 76th minute and, eight minutes later, swept in his first goal.
The Spaniard, who was mobbed by every one of his team mates, then set up Florent Malouda for the third.
Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti said it had been a perfect day. "Everyone expected Fernando to score and finally he scored and for him from today will be a new life," he told ESPN.