A battling performance went unrewarded at Wembley Stadium on Sunday afternoon as a goal in each half from Chelsea saw them win the Capital One Cup.
Neither side carved out too many clear opportunities in front of goal although we certainly saw more of the ball, but were unable to find that cutting edge in the final third as Chelsea’s defence held firm. Instead it was the west Londoners who found the back of the net on two occasions, although both were deflected goals.
The first came just a minute before half-time when John Terry’s close-range drive flicked off a Spurs player and flew past Hugo Lloris and the Blues added a second on 56 minutes, Costa this time benefitting as his drive from a tight angle came off Kyle Walker and left our French goalkeeper stranded.
We kept fighting to try to work our way back into the game, but couldn’t penetrate the wall of blue in front of us as Chelsea’s defence remained compact and determined.
The headline team news saw Head Coach Mauricio Pochettino name Lloris in goal to captain the team, while Eric Dier partnered Jan Vertonghen in the centre of defence, the Belgian the only player in our team to have played every minute of this season’s Capital One Cup. There were five players in the starting line-up who spent time in our Academy – Nabil Bentaleb, Harry Kane, Ryan Mason, Danny Rose and Andros Townsend all selected.
It was the Blues who settled better into the contest and had two early opportunities, the first after just five minutes when Eden Hazard, Costa and Cesc Fabregas linked up to find Ramires in the area, but his shot was blocked.
Two minutes later, Lloris had to parry Branislav Ivanovic’s cross and then kick it away as he landed, and from the set-piece, Chelsea’s Serbian defender headed wide when unmarked at the far post.
We almost grabbed the lead on nine minutes when Kane’s trickery to beat four Chelsea players ended with Fabregas bringing him down 25 yards out, just left of centre. Up stepped Christian Eriksen and he curled a free-kick over the wall but against the crossbar, with Mason smashing the rebound well wide.
That gave us more confidence and we started to get the ball down and play, Kane testing Petr Cech for the first time with a 25-yard drive after a surging run, while Eriksen turned in the area from a Walker thrown-in only for Ramires to block his effort, with Mason smashing the loose ball against Kane. Chelsea then broke away down the left through Costa, he laid a pass in to Hazard on the edge of the area but his chip to the far post was well wide.
It was end-to-end stuff and the Blues were on the attack again on 23 minutes when Hazard got away down the left this time, worked his way into the area, cut inside and drilled goalwards but Dier slid in to block, while Nacer Chadli’s excellent clearance prevented Terry getting on the end of Willian’s free-kick to the far post just before the half hour mark.
At the other end, a well-worked move between Eriksen, Rose and Chadli saw Rose keep the ball in on the byline and find the Dane, who shifted it onto his right foot and fired towards goal from 10 yards, but Cech saved low down at his near post.
Chadli and Mason both tried their luck from distance in the closing minutes of the half, both well over the crossbar however, before Chelsea snatched the lead on the stroke of half-time. Chadli fouled Ivanovic wide on the right, Willian delivered a free-kick which Rose inadvertently flicked on, the ball bounced off a defender and fell straight to Terry eight yards out, and he fired in an effort which deflected off an outstretched leg and past Lloris.
It almost got worse before the interval when Fabregas’ corner deep to the far post was headed back by Ivanovic for Cahill to nod towards goal, but Lloris saved right on his goal line and it was just the one-goal deficit at the break.
Neither side made a change at half-time and it was Chelsea who were on the front foot at the start of the second period, Hazard fizzing a low cross which Dier almost diverted into his own net, while it needed a smart save low down to his left from Lloris to deny Fabregas with an overhead kick.
The Blues doubled their lead 11 minutes into the half. Willian came in off the right flank and found Fabregas, he slid a ball in to Costa down the left channel of the area and his shot deflected off Walker and flew past Lloris.
We needed a goal to get back into the contest and Bentaleb had a 25-yard drive after Townsend’s lay-off but drilled well over, but as we started to push forwards for a foothold in the game, we were always susceptible to the counter-attack and Hazard almost added a third when he curled inches wide of Lloris’ far upright on 63 minutes.
We introduced Mousa Dembele and Erik Lamela for Townsend and Mason and started to exert pressure on the Chelsea goal, without creating real clear cut chances. Kane came close with 15 minutes remaining but just couldn’t get a touch on Eriksen’s whipped corner and when the striker delivered a fantastic cross to the far post moments later, Chadli didn’t expect Ivanovic to miss the ball and was unable to get any contact on the centre.
That was the Belgian’s last involvement as he was replaced by Roberto Soldado as we continued to press forward, so nearly getting on the scoresheet when Kane bundled his way through and found himself in on goal, only for Terry to superbly block his shot. And Ivanovic almost put through his own net minutes later when he cleared Kane’s cross for a corner.
We kept plugging away but couldn’t find a passage to goal as Chelsea packed their defence – it wasn’t to be this time.
Spurs: Lloris, Walker, Vertonghen, Dier, Rose, Mason (Lamela 71), Bentaleb, Townsend (Dembele 61), Eriksen, Chadli (Soldado 80), Kane. Substitutes (not used): Vorm, Davies, Fazio, Stambouli.
Chelsea: Cech, Ivanovic, Terry, Cahill, Azpilicueta, Fabregas (Oscar 88), Zouma, Ramires, Hazard, Costa (Drogba 90+3), Willian (Cuadrado 76). Substitutes (not used): Courtois, Luis, Ake, Remy.
Goals: Chelsea – Terry 45, Walker own goal 56.
Yellow cards: Spurs – Dier, Bentaleb; Chelsea – Willian, Cahill, Cuadrado.
Referee: Anthony Taylor.