Chelsea outclass Spurs to strengthen grip on fourth place


Chelsea boosted their hopes of qualifying for the Champions League next season with a 2-1 victory over their London rivals Tottenham Hotspur in the lunchtime kickoff.

However, it was a much more comprehensive win than the scoreline suggested.

Olivier Giroud marked his first start since November with the opening goal 15 minutes in, and Marcos Alonso doubled the Blues’ lead early in the second half, before a very late Antonio Rudiger own goal set up a tense finish. 

It was Chelsea who began the match on the front foot dominating possession with both wing backs, Reece James and Marco Alonso delivering threatening crosses from each flank. Tottenham began with a flat back five when they didn’t have the ball, inviting Chelsea to find a way to break them down. 

The home side could not rise to the challenge early on and it was actually Spurs who had the first clear cut opportunity ten minutes in. Lucas Moura hit a powerful shot just inside the box, after an exquisite lay off from Steven Bergwijn, but Willy Caballero made a good save, parrying it away from goal with both hands.

Chelsea responded immediately with Alonso finding Mason Mount in the six yard box with a good ball down the channel. Mount tried to catch Spurs goalkeeper Hugo Lloris out with a quick shot at the near post but the Frenchman was equal to it with a sharp right handed save to turn the ball behind for a corner.

Fifteen minutes in Chelsea broke the deadlock. Jorginho produced a delightful ball from the halfway line into the box for Giroud to run onto. Giroud shot right footed but  Lloris saved it with his legs. The ball came back out to Barkley who on the half volley hit the post. The ball then came back out to Grioud who controlled it with one touch and then with his left foot drilled it into the net past the despairing Lloris at his near post.

Ten minutes later and Alonso almost extended their lead  with a right footed volley that just sailed over the bar from the edge of the penalty area following a free kick. 

At this point in the match Tottenham could barely get out of their own half as Chelsea’s high energy pressing paid dividends for them.

Just after the half hour mark Tottenham finally found another gear as Begwijn flicked it to Moura on the left side of the penalty area but just as the Brazilian pulled the trigger, Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta made a great sliding challenge to deflect the shot over the bar and almost certainly deny Mourinho’s men an equaliser.

Tottenham were building up a head of steam. The resultant corner from Giovani Lo Celso was headed powerfully goalwards by Sanchez and diverted over the bar by the right hand of Caballero.

The brief flurry from the away side then abated and it was Ross Barkley who had the final clear cut opportunity of the half as he broke into the penalty area and from the left hand side of the box hit the side netting with a low effort.

Chelsea began the second half as they’d finished the first, in the ascendancy, and three minutes after the restart Alonso had added a second and all but killed Spurs’ hopes of getting anything out of the game. Giroud headed a throw in into the path of Mount who squared it on the edge of the area to Barkley. Barkley laid it off first time to the on running Alonso who lashed it into the bottom right corner of the net with a left footed strike.

Two minutes later Barkley, who was beginning to dictate the game, produced a sharp turn and shot on the left edge of the penalty area which Lloris turned over the bar.

Then came the most controversial moment of the game. A Lo Celso challenge on Azpilicueta was looked at by VAR to see if there was a potential red card for violent conduct. However, after a long delay it was decided by the officials at Stockley Park that referee Michael Oliver had made the correct decision by not awarding anything. Late in the match though, the officials admitted that there had been a human error and the decision should have been overturned with Spurs reduced to ten men.

In the final quarter of the game it was Tottenham, who enjoyed the better of what was becoming quite a scrappy affair. Érik Lamela, on as a substitute, added some spark to the away side, and saw a freekick deflected over the bar. Alderweireld then looped a header goalwards from Winks cross but it was well caught by Caballero.

The Blues then had two fantastic chances to make the scoreline reflect their dominance but Tammy Abraham, who’d only just been introduced to proceedings, saw a shot well smothered by Lloris from close range. Alonso then rattled the bar with a wonderful freekick from the edge of the area.

These missed chances clearly gave Spurs some belief and Lucas Moura, arguably their best player throughout, clipped a wonderful through ball in behind for Lamela to chase. The Argentine cut inside and his shot hit the heel of Rudiger and deflected past the helpless Caballero.

A nervous atmosphere emanated around Stamford Bridge as the game headed into four minutes of stoppage time. Although the away side had a lot of possession in the closing stages they failed to do anything very significant with it and a deflected Le Celso cross that landed in Caballero’s arms was all they had to show for their pursuit of an equaliser.



Chelsea: Caballero; Christensen, Rudiger, Azpilicueta, Alonso, James; Kovacic, Jorginho, Barkley (Willian 77), Mount; Giroud (Abraham 71)

Unused Substitutes: Kepa, Loftus-Cheek, Emerson, Gilmour, Zouma

Spurs: Lloris, Tanganga, Alderweireld (Aurier 78), Sanchez, Vertonghen, Davies, Ndombele (Lamela 63), Winks, Lo Celso, Bergwijn (Alli 78), Lucas Moura

Unused Substitutes: Gazzaniga, Dier, Skipp, Fernandes

Attendance: 40,608


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