The Argentine international, not seen in a Spurs shirt since a League Cup tie at Liverpool on October 25 last year, took another step on his road to recovery following hip problems with a good shift in a Premier League 2 London derby at Hotspur Way that saw both sides have spells in the ascendency before reaching a crescendo with two dramatic goals in stoppage time.
Martell Taylor-Crossdale's brace had the Blues 2-1 in front, Shayon Harrison having replied earlier, before goalkeeper Alfie Whiteman was adjudged to have fouled the rapid Luke McCormick, allowing Callum Hudson-Odoi to seemingly put the match out of reach with a penalty in the 92nd minute.
We came back, though, and Kazaiah Sterling's 94th-minute header meant it was game on for the last couple of moments, but sadly a last-gasp opening eluded us.
Lamela was replaced by Joe Pritchard on the hour mark in a planned change, with Christian Maghoma also introduced moments later to bolster our defence.
GOAL: SPURS 0-1 CHELSEA - MARTELL TAYLOR-CROSSDALE - 2mins
A stuttering start saw us fall behind in 95 seconds. A corner was taken short to Kyle Scott, who slid across from close to the byline on the right for Taylor-Crossdale to convert at the near post. Then, young defender Brooklyn Lyons-Foster was caught in possession and the Blues went through three-on-one, but his centre-half partner Japhet Tanganga recovered to slide in with a good block to deny Harvey St Clair as he pulled the trigger from the right side of the area.
GOAL: SPURS 1-1 CHELSEA - SHAYON HARRISON - 11mins
We looked vulnerable at the back at times but made up for it with some bright passing in attack. Harrison found a way through in the right channel on 11 minutes and, although Shilow Tracey was free at the back post, he took the shot on himself, his effort squirming in at the near post after taking a touch off Trevoh Chalobah. Marcus Edwards sent a well-struck free-kick inches wide three minutes later, while Lamela's rising 25-yard pinger forced a diving fingertip save from Blues goalkeeper Jamie Cumming just beyond the quarter-of-an-hour mark.
Above: Erik Lamela on the ball.
CHANCES: BENNETTS OFF THE LINE, TRACEY DENIED AT OTHER END - 37-38mins
We struggled to carve out any real openings after those long-range attempts from Edwards and Lamela, and we had a let-off when left-back Keanan Bennetts cleared St Clair's effort off the line. But within a minute, Tracey was through at the other end thanks to a good pass from Lamela, but Chelsea skipper Jake Clarke-Salter managed to track back and dispossess him as he shaped to shoot six yards out.
GOAL: SPURS 1-2 CHELSEA - MARTELL TAYLOR-CROSSDALE - 53mins
Chelsea started the second half purposefully and regained the lead eight minutes in, St Clair's cross from the right headed home by Taylor-Crossdale at the front post. The goal was harsh on Tanganga, who had done well in the build-up to steer another dangerous cross away from anyone in blue.
GOAL: SPURS 1-3 CHELSEA - CALLUM HUDSON-ODOI (PENALTY) - 90+2mins
It was tougher going for us as the second period progressed, despite the best efforts of Oliver Skipp, Luke Amos and substitute Pritchard to take control of the midfield. A defensive mix-up saw McCormick go through on goal, only to be denied by Whiteman, before the Blues found themselves with a chance to wrap up victory in the second of four added minutes. McCormick sped through the middle onto Hudson-Odoi's pass and although he prodded beyond Whiteman and Pritchard cleared off the line, the referee deemed the keeper to have committed a foul and pointed to the spot, booking Whiteman in the process. Hudson-Odoi made no mistake to make it 3-1.
GOAL: SPURS 2-3 CHELSEA - KAZAIAH STERLING - 90+4mins
The game wasn't over just yet. Our free-kick was cleared out to George Marsh on the right, who sent a great delivery over to the back post for Sterling to cushion a header back across goal, his effort dropping under the bar and in. There was still time for us to play, but Chelsea stood firm to prevent us from mounting any further attacks.
ASSISTANT COACH JUSTIN COCHRANE SAID
“We made a poor start, giving away a goal from a set-piece where we should have been switched on. After that, we got ourselves together and the first half was quite even with both teams playing good football. We played with a decent intent, got back into the game, but the second half was different. They pinned us in a little bit and we weren’t able to apply as much pressure on the ball. The boys worked hard but in the big moments that we did have in terms of attacking and in defence, we were caught a little bit short.
“The boys worked hard but in terms of the quality that we need, we must get better. We’ve got a young group with a lot of Under-19s but they need to learn quickly that at the level we’re playing at now, we need to show more quality. It’s a step up from Under-18s football. I was pleased to see Kazaiah score – he’s been a bit poorly this week but he’s come on and made an impact. Looking back at their goals, we could have done better but it’s all a learning curve. We need to learn how to win these games.”
Spurs: Whiteman, Marsh, Bennetts (C Maghoma 63), Skipp, Tanganga, Lyons-Foster, Tracey, Amos (c), Harrison, Edwards (Sterling 75), Lamela (Pritchard 60). Substitutes (not used): Austin, Loft.
Chelsea: Cumming, James, Chalobah, Clarke-Salter (c), Grant, Scott, St Clair, Sammut, Taylor-Crossdale (C Dasilva 88), Maddox (McCormick 66), Hudson-Odoi. Substitutes (not used): Bulka, K Hazard, Colley.
Goals: Spurs - Harrison 11, Sterling 90+4; Chelsea - Taylor-Crossdale 2, 53, Hudson-Odoi 90+2 (pen).
Yellow cards: Spurs - Pritchard 62, Whiteman 90+1; Chelsea - Chalobah 15, Sammut 79.
Referee: Christopher O'Donnell.
A handful of players from this group now turn their attentions to UEFA Youth League duty and a big game away to Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday (kick-off 1pm UK time, live on BT Sport). The next Premier League 2 fixture for the Under-23s is next Saturday, away to Manchester City (kick-off 1pm).