Gomes heroics stop Chelsea comeback
Heurelho Gomes' late penalty save meant the spoils were shared as champions Chelsea came from behind to take a point in an entertaining London derby at the Lane.
Heurelho Gomes’ late penalty save meant the spoils were shared as champions Chelsea came from behind to take a point in an entertaining London derby at the Lane.
Didier Drogba came off the bench at half-time to cancel out Roman Pavlyuchenko’s first half opener and would have completed the comeback had our goalkeeper not kept out his spot kick in stoppage time.
The result stretched our unbeaten run in all competitions to eight games but did mean that Chelsea ended a sequence of defeats in N17, where they had been beaten in the last two seasons.
William Gallas and Jermaine Jenas missed the game through injury but we received massive boosts as the in-form Luka Modric returned from illness and Michael Dawson made his long-awaited comeback from injury.
He made his first start since suffering knee and ankle injuries playing for England back in September and slotted nicely into the back line in Gallas’ absence – also assuming the role of captaincy.
But the popular centre-half had little time to settle back into his rhythm against a Chelsea side desperate to turn around their recent run of poor form and boasting a fearsome attack.
And they had the better of the early exchanges before we took the all-important lead on 15 minutes.
Jermain Defoe played into the feet of Pavlyuchenko, who with his first touch stepped away from his marker and with his second struck low past Petr Cech to send White Hart Lane into an ever more familiar fit of jubilation.
The goal opened up what was to be a fantastic game of end to end football and ferocious action typical of a big London derby.
Chelsea perhaps had the better chances with Salomon Kalou going close a number of times in the first half, while Nicolas Anelka saw a goal ruled out for offside just before the break.
At the other end, Pavlyuchenko had the chance to double his tally on the half-hour mark when he met a Gareth Bale free-kick on the volley at the back post but fired over.
Half-time saw Drogba introduced in place of John Mikel Obi as Chelsea switched to a 4-4-2 formation and really went for it.
But we started the second half the brighter with Defoe and Modric both going close before Drogba really started to make his powerful presence felt.
He forced Gomes into a smart save with a 25 yard shot on 54 minutes before the goalkeeper was again called into action moments later, acrobatically tipping over his own bar after a Chelsea free-kick came flying off of the head of Wilson Palacios.
Peter Crouch was introduced for Defoe on the hour mark in attempt to add similar power up front and Pavlyuchenko so nearly went clear on Palacios’ throughball, only to miscontrol.
Chelsea continued to add firepower to their attack in the form of Daniel Sturridge with time ticking away before Drogba finally came to their rescue on 71 minutes.
He shrugged aside Dawson to control a long ball and fired straight at Gomes, the shot having enough power to bounce off over the goalkeeper and trickle over the line.
All of a sudden, it was about making sure we came away with at least a point and Benoit Assou-Ekotto played a big part in making sure we did that soon after with some great defending to deny Sturridge at close range after Drogba helped on a corner.
Frank Lampard made his return from injury with 13 minutes remaining while Robbie Keane came on for Pavlyuchenko as both sides looked for the winner.
And the chance was handed on a plate to the visitors when Gomes clattered into fellow countryman Ramires to concede a penalty in stoppage time.
But Drogba could not complete the Chelsea comeback he had started as Gomes recovered to make an excellent save to his left in real late drama.
Aaron Lennon came closest for us but could not repeat the heroics of a fortnight ago here against Liverpool. However, it is fair to say we will probably settle for the point in the end on this occasion.
Spurs (4-4-2): Gomes; Hutton, Dawson, Bassong, Assou-Ekotto; Lennon, Palacios (Sandro, 89), Modric, Bale; Defoe (Crouch, 60), Pavlyuchenko (Keane, 78)
Subs not used: Cudicini, Corluka, Bentley, Giovani
Chelsea (4-3-3): Cech; Ferreira, Ivanovic, Terry, Cole; Essien, Mikel (Drogba, 46), Ramires; Kalou (Sturridge, 68), Anelka, Malouda (Lampard, 77)
Subs not used: Turnball, Bruma, Van Aanholt, McEachran
Goals: Spurs - Pavlyuchenko 15. Chelsea - Drogba 70.
Referee: Mr M Dean.