REPORT: CHELSEA 2, SPURS 0
A goal in each half resulted in us falling to defeat against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Saturday afternoon.
A goal in each half resulted in us falling to defeat against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Saturday afternoon.It was an encounter that just didn't take off and there was little to illuminate it. The decisive strikes came from Juliano Belletti and Shaun Wright-Phillips
There was a spot of set piece alarm in the fourth minute when Joe Cole swept in a free-kick from the left flank that fizzed over strained necks and the raised fists of Radek Cerny, with the danger eventually eliminated.
Aaron Lennon, who always seems to enjoy playing up against Ashley Cole, was giving the England full-back a torrid time early on. Chelsea opted for the muscular threat of Claudio Pizarro in attack - new signing Nicolas Anelka started on the bench - but the combination of Ledley King and Michael Dawson appeared to have their measure as the game took shape.
Perhaps with this in mind, the full-back Belletti decided to try his luck from distance and, after running unchallenged for ten yards or so, took aim and ripped his shot into the top corner in the 19th minute.
A Lennon dash just before the half-hour mark resulted in a floated cross being met by a Steed Malbranque volley at the far post that returning keeper Petr Cech did well to foil. The left was certainly looking the channel most likely to yield profit. Kevin Boateng later fired in a swerving shot that ended up only flying a yard or so high.
Michael Ballack steered the ball into the net three minutes before the break off a Florent Malouda run, but a flag was waving over the far side and the German knew it.
There were no changes at the break, although Lennon was still looking the one who might breach the Chelsea barricades. There was a lack of fluency to our game, however.
Malbranque was replaced by Adel Taarabt just before the hour as tmost of the crowd of 41,777 were getting more than a bit het up over the midfielder not being sent off following a challenge on Wright-Phillips.
Cerny produced a superb stooping stop to deny Anelka shortly after he was introduced into the action.
There was a chance of a leveller on 70 minutes after Lennon was crudely chopped down by Ballack right on the line of the penalty area. Berbatov, after a lengthy delay to organise the wall, curled over the bar.
Jermain Defoe was drafted in for Jamie O'Hara for the final 13 minutes, with Keane dropping in behind the two strikers. Boateng then swung over a teasing cross that Keane could not reach at the far post due to Alex making contact - a touch not spotted by referee Mr Wiley.
Straight away at the other end a Joe Cole foray past Young-Pyo Lee led to him prodding into the path of Wright-Phillips, who drilled past Cerny and into the bottom corner.
It was game over - even though Anelka later rattled the underside of the bar - a game that never really lived up to its billing.