London, Apr 29 (Reuters) Chelsea won the Premier League championship today after goals from defenders William Gallas and Ricardo Carvalho and winger Joe Cole earned them a thumping 3-0 victory over closest rivals Manchester United.
It was the second title in a row for the London side, who rose 12 points clear at the top of the league, and means United, who had been on a fine run of form, must fight it out with Liverpool for second place with two games to go.
The tense, tough and committed contest as befitted the top two sides in the Premier League must have had nine national coaches on the edge of their seats worrying about injury with the World Cup starting on June 9.
England striker Wayne Rooney was carried off on a stretcher 10 minutes before the end of the contest after a clash with Paulo Ferreira. He went down clutching his foot.
All Chelsea's starting line-up were likely to be playing in the World Cup as well as all but two from Manchester United . Six from the two teams were England regulars.
Jose Mourinho's Chelsea, disappointed by the loss to Barcelona in the Champions League last month and knocked out of the FA Cup in last weekend's semi-finals by Liverpool, came out with a point to prove.
In the fifth minute Frank Lampard floated in a corner from the right. Big Ivory Coast striker Didier Droga headed on and France defender Gallas wheeled in from the left to head home.
SHIN INJURY Shortly afterwards Chelsea captain John Terry was caught in a tussle with Rooney whose boot caught his shin. He stayed down for several minutes but eventually waved away the stretcher.
It was Rooney who earned United's best chance of the half.
The striker cut through the Chelsea defence from the halfway line in the 22nd minute, wrongfooting Portugal defenders Carvalho and Ferreira before shooting wide with only Petr Cech to beat.
In the dying moments of the half, Manchester United won a corner but England centre back Rio Ferdinand headed over the bar from the floated cross.
Cristiano was also off-target from a free kick just on the edge of the area early in the second half with Manchester United piling on pressure from the whistle.
Chelsea burst back into life on the hour when Drogba chested down a long clearance from Cech into the path of the racing Cole.
The winger rounded England team mate Ferdinand and sped past Mikael Silvestre, before slotting the ball coolly past Netherlands keeper Edwin van der Sar.
In the 73rd minute they put the contest beyond question when Cole jiggled towards the United area and threaded a ball through to Carvalho on the left of the area.
The Portuguese was able to take his time to line up a crunching shot past Van der Sar.
Reuters DH PM1930