Chelsea 2-2 Spurs - report from Stamford Bridge...
A breathless London derby ended all square at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday evening as the race for the top four remains up for grabs going into the final two matches of the season.
We twice came had to come from behind as the Blues took an early lead through Oscar which Emmanuel Adebayor cancelled out with a world-class strike, before Gylfi Sigurdsson’s goal 10 minutes from time levelled it up following Ramires’ 39th-minute strike.
Andre Villas-Boas shuffled his pack once again and made three changes from the side which beat Southampton on Saturday. In midfield, Scott Parker and Lewis Holtby came in for Mousa Dembele and Clint Dempsey, with Adebayor lining up in attack in place of Jermain Defoe.
It was a cracking atmosphere in west London and the hosts made the better start to proceedings, with Juan Mata controlling and turning to fire just over on seven minutes, while Tom Huddlestone had our first sight of goal a minute later but shot tamely at Petr Cech.
The opening goal came on 10 minutes and it was Chelsea who drew first blood. Mata sent over a corner, Gary Cahill won the header sending the ball to the far post where Oscar nodded in unmarked.
There was a real buzz about the game, with fast flowing football from both sides and the chances came thick and fast. Lewis Holtby fired a shot wide from 20 yards after a quarter of an hour, Mata again drilled an effort over on 16 minutes while Eden Hazard’s fierce drive from the left-hand edge of our box looked like it was going to trouble Lloris had it not cannoned off Michael Dawson’s head for a corner.
While the Blues scored from an earlier corner, amazingly it was our turn to score from this set-piece as we drew level on 26 minutes with a moment of pure magic from Adebayor. The corner was headed clear, Scott Parker and Holtby then won important tackles inside our own half and the ball ran to our Togo striker.
As the Chelsea defence backed off, he just kept advancing on goal until, 25 yards out, he curled a magnificent right foot shot which left Cech rooted to the spot as the ball nestled in the back of the net.
That certainly gave us a lift and Cahill needed to be alert to block a Bale drive, before Ade was almost in again, stretching to reach Jan Vertonghen’s superb 50-yard ball but only able to send it over the bar.
Six minutes from the break though, Chelsea were back in front when Torres slipped a pass inside Vertonghen to Ramires bursting forward and he poked a shot past the diving Lloris for 2-1.
But it was almost all square again when Kyle Walker played a double one-two, first with Holtby and then with Adebayor but as the ball fell onto his less favoured left foot, he could only shoot wide from 15 yards and we went into the interval trailing.
Chelsea started the second half on the front foot and went close when Hazard chipped a cross to the far post where Fernando Torres was lurking, but some superb defending from Benoit Assou-Ekotto prevented the striker getting a clear sight of goal. And Hazard should have done better after latching onto Oscar’s pass, cutting inside Dawson but sending his shot high and wide.
Ramires then had a great chance to make it 3-1, having made another bursting run to get on the end of Mata’s pass after Hazard’s flick on halfway, but the Brazilian midfielder inexplicably slipped when steadying himself to shoot and the danger was averted.
There was a bit of a lull in the play as the game settled down again and we made changes, with Gylfi Sigurdsson and Clint Dempsey replacing Aaron Lennon and Lewis Holtby, before carving out a good opportunity with 15 minutes remaining.
Lloris’ clearance was taken in by Adebayor, he held the ball up before sliding a pass into Dempsey, who let it roll past him before shooting goalwards, Azpilicueta sliding in to block.
And then came the equaliser with Adebayor to the fore once again. With 10 minutes left, Assou-Ekotto popped a pass into Ade inside the area, he produced a superb flick to Sigurdsson who curled his effort past Cech into the bottom corner for 2-2.
As the clock ticked over to injury time, the game was flowing from end to end and Dempsey had a chance to snatch it only to shoot straight at Cech.
Then, in the 92nd minute we were awarded a free-kick in Bale territory, 25-yards from goal to the right of centre. This time, the Welsh star’s effort was comfortable for Cech and that was the last action of note.
All still to play for!
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Cech; Azpilicueta, Cahill, Ivanovic, Cole; Ramires, Luiz; Hazard (Moses 73), Mata, Oscar (Benayoun 84); Torres. Substitutes (not used): Turnbull, Terry, Ake, Lampard, Ba.
Spurs (4-4-2): Lloris; Walker, Dawson, Vertonghen, Assou-Ekotto; Lennon (Sigurdsson 62), Parker, Huddlestone, Holtby (Dempsey 70); Bale, Adebayor. Substitutes (not used): Friedel, Naughton, Caulker, Carroll, Defoe.
Goals: Chelsea – Oscar (10), Ramires (39); Spurs – Adebayor (26), Sigurdsson (80).
Yellows: Spurs – Vertonghen, Bale.
Referee: Mike Dean.