London: Cesc Fabregas scored an 88th-minute winner with Chelsea's first shot on target as the Premier League leaders beat local rival Queens Park Rangers 1-0 to edge closer to the title on Sunday.
A mis-hit clearance by QPR goalkeeper Robert Green was picked up by Eden Hazard and the Belgium winger fed Fabregas — wearing a mask to protect his broken nose — for a low finish inside the post.
QPR manager Chris Ramsey defended Green.
"It wasn't one of his best kicks but we had a long time to defend it properly and we didn't," Ramsey said. "When the ball goes out wide and we've got about eight players behind the ball, you can't blame him, it's just a bad clearance."
Chelsea delivered a lackluster performance at Loftus Road but has made a habit recently of winning in spite of its scrappy performances. That was a third straight win by a one-goal margin, and Chelsea is unbeaten since Jan. 1.
"Were we fortunate? Yes. It was a typical game for 0-0," Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said. "We controlled them very well and kept them far from the box because in the box (Bobby) Zamora and (Charlie) Austin are killers."
Chelsea maintained its seven-point lead over second-place Arsenal and has a game in hand. Chelsea has seven games left.
QPR had the better chances in a disappointing derby on a bobbly pitch, with goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois producing a fine reaction save from Matt Phillips and also denying Austin.
The home side stayed third from bottom and has lost six games in a row at home.
Chelsea's next two games are against title rivals Manchester United and Arsenal, but they are running out of time to catch Mourinho's side.
Missing injured strikers Diego Costa and Loic Remy, Chelsea toiled up front with veteran Didier Drogba showing little threat.
But Fabregas delivered late — perhaps ending the realistic title hopes of his former club Arsenal.
"We were always very stable and then we scored in the crucial moment of the game. I feel sorry for them because they fought hard to get a point," Mourinho said.