Honours were even against Chelsea at White Hart Lane as Gylfi Sigurdsson’s first-half strike was cancelled out by a John Terry header after the interval.
It was a typically dramatic London derby, played at a ferocious pace at times with both sides creating plenty of chances, and Chelsea finishing the game with 10 men following Fernando Torres’ sending off late on. The draw - our first in any competition this season - was probably a fair result overall as we had the better of the first half, but Chelsea were on top for most of the second.
Andre Villas-Boas kept faith with the side which started at Cardiff City last weekend, and Vlad Chiriches was added to the substitutes’ bench for his first involvement in the Premier League.
While the atmosphere crackled as it always does for these games, in fairness the contest took time to ignite with both sides feeling each other out in the early stages.
Paulinho fired in the first shot of the game on seven minutes but it was well wide, while Frank Lampard did likewise with his effort a minute later for the visitors. Jan Vertonghen then headed tamely wide from Christian Eriksen’s free-kick before the opening goal on 19 minutes – and what a wonderful goal it was too.
Eriksen turned Lampard midway inside the Chelsea half and carried the ball to edge of box, before squaring it between two defenders to Roberto Soldado. The Spaniard touched the ball off to the oncoming Sigurdsson who rode the challenge of Terry and, as he was falling, slid his shot past the advancing Petr Cech, his 10th goal in our colours.
That electrified the Lane and it lifted the players too, who were producing some fantastic football and we almost doubled our lead four minutes later.
The move flowed from left to right across the pitch, where Soldado played the ball inside to the lively Andros Townsend who shaped to shoot, cut back on to his right foot and left two defenders on the floor. He then slipped a pass back to Soldado and his low cross looked like it was going to be tapped in at the far post by Paulinho but superb defending from Branislav Ivanovic cleared the ball over the bar.
We were on top at this stage but Chelsea came back strong in the closing stages of the first half, Eden Hazard seeing a shot deflected for a corner after dispossessing Kyle Walker 25 yards out, before Oscar’s volley was saved low down by Hugo Lloris.
Paulinho went so close in the 45th minute, smashing a shot against the post after superb work from Walker and Townsend to set him free down the right channel of the box, while John Terry had the final word of the half, heading wide from Ramires’ deep cross as went in ahead at the interval.
There was no slow start to the second half though, with Chelsea flying out of the traps, Fernando Torres particularly involved. Three minutes in he skipped past Kyle Naughton and Vertonghen down the right and delivered a teasing low cross but it was just out of the reach of Oscar at the far post.
On 53 minutes he was there again, running at our defence and going past Dawson but Lloris was quick off his line to block the shot for a corner which came to nothing. Substitute Juan Mata then had the ball in the net four minutes later after collecting Torres’ flick but he was flagged for offside.
We were certainly on the backfoot and Chelsea levelled in the 65th minute when Mata delivered a tempting cross which was met by Terry to flick home past Lloris. It was the first goal we had conceded at home this season.
And while we settled down after conceding, making changes with Lewis Holtby, Nacer Chadli and Jermain Defoe entering the fray, it was Chelsea who almost stole the lead through one of their substitutes, Andre Schurrle. Torres played him through down the middle but again Lloris was rapidly off his line to deny the German.
Then came the sending off in the 81st minute, Torres given a second yellow card following an aerial challenge with Vertonghen and the impetus was back with us with the man advantage.
Defoe had a snapshot which Cech saved low down and with three minutes remaining, Sigurdsson almost grabbed his second of the game, firing a 20-yard half volley inches past the top left-hand corner of the goal.
Defoe hit another effort which was deflected for a corner, Cech comfortably collecting the set-piece, and Chadli smashed a shot high and wide as we pushed late on, but we couldn’t find the winner.