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Misfiring Chelsea held to 0-0 draw by Norwich

Updated: January 21, 2012, 10:34


Norwich City's Daniel Ayala, right, competes with Chelsea's Fernando Torres during their English Premier League soccer match at Carrow Road stadium, Norwich, England, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2012. (AP Photo/Sang Tan)

NORWICH, England(AP) Chelsea's slim Premier League title hopes took another blow as its expensive strikeforce misfired in a 0-0 draw at Norwich on Saturday.

Spain internationals Fernando Torres and Juan Mata - who cost Chelsea a reported 76 million pounds ($118 million) between them - squandered the best chances as the visitors failed to take advantage of their second-half dominance at Carrow Road.

Chelsea stayed fourth in the standings, 10 points behind Manchester City ahead of the leaders' home match against third-place Tottenham on Sunday.

"The second half was all ours. We finished with 12 shots on goal and we couldn't find the back of the net again,'' Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas said. "It was a frustrating day. For a super-motivated Norwich, (the result) is not bad. For us in the league, it's not enough.''

Torres, who toe-poked softly wide in the 60th minute with Chelsea's best chance, extended his barren run in front of goal to 15 club matches since his double at home to Genk in the Champions League Oct. 19 - the longest drought of his club career.

"He had a good couple of chances ... you have to position yourself to have those good chances and he was there, present,'' Villas-Boas said. "With a little bit more luck he will find the back of the net.''

Norwich, which began the match in ninth place, hung on grimly at the end to earn its first clean sheet since returning to the top flight for this season.

"You know you are going to come up against a team who will create chances when you play Chelsea, but the game plan worked again and we've got a very good point,'' Norwich goalkeeper John Ruddy said.

Chelsea, though, will see it as two points dropped in its bid to stay in the Champions League positions and remain alive in the title race.

Fifth-place Arsenal can trim the gap to Chelsea to two points with a win at home to second-place Manchester United in Sunday's other pivotal match at the top of the table.

Norwich wasn't without chances of its own, with hard-working striker Grant Holt slashing wide in the 10th minute as he attempted to extend his haul of league goals to eight.

Chelsea, looking for a third straight win, had to withdraw Frank Lampard in the 37th with what appeared to be a calf injury but his replacement, Florent Malouda, played an integral role in pushing the team forward in the second half.

Torres, who cost 50 million pounds (then $81 million) in January, skied over from about 25 yards (meters) before missing his golden chance two minutes later after controlling Jose Bosingwa's deflected cross eight yards (meters) out.

Brazil midfielder Ramires and Daniel Sturridge also wasted openings in a one-sided second half.

Chelsea's new signing, England defender Gary Cahill, wasn't part of the matchday squad.

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