Disappointing afternoon against Chelsea
Spurs 0-2 Chelsea
Sun 22 December 2019, 18:35|Tottenham Hotspur
We missed out on the chance to move into the Premier League’s top four with defeat to Chelsea at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Victory against the Blues would have seen us climb above them into fourth, but we never really got going as two first-half goals from Willian – the second from the penalty spot in stoppage time – consigned us to a 2-0 defeat. A disappointing day was compounded by the second-half dismissal of Heung-Min Son, sent off following a VAR review after appearing to kick out at Antonio Rudiger.
Both sides were looking to get a feel for the game in the early stages, although Chelsea were having more of the ball as we struggled to find any real rhythm. They made that superiority pay with the opening goal on 12 minutes as Willian scored his first of the game. Serge Aurier’s attempted header back to Paulo Gazzaniga went out for a corner, from the set-piece Willian played it short to Mateo Kovacic and received the return pass, advanced into the area before cutting onto his right foot and curling into the back of the net.
The goal didn’t really spark us into life with the visitors continuing to enjoy the lion’s share of possession and almost doubled their lead on 25 minutes when Mason Mount played a one-two and took the return into the area in on goal but sliced his effort well wide. Our offensive play increased during the second part of the half and we went close with our first piece of real incisive football on 28 minutes. Aurier down the right played a pass infield to Moussa Sissoko who broke into the area and cut the ball back but Harry Kane could only fire over the bar from 10 yards out. And just a minute later, Kane got away down the right and slid a low ball across the area to Son at the far post but again, he couldn’t convert from a tight angle.
It was end-to-end without serious chances being created until the final minute of the half when Willian played a pass forward for Marcos Alonso to chase. As the ball bounced into the area, Gazzaniga rushed out, missed the ball with an attempted high kick and both players clattered into each other. Referee Anthony Taylor initially awarded us a free-kick but a VAR review altered the decision to a penalty to Chelsea which Willian converted.
We made a change at the interval with Christian Eriksen replacing Eric Dier and matched up with Chelsea’s 3-4-3 formation, enjoying more of the ball in the opening minutes of the half with the Dane trying to pull the strings in midfield. The visitors were always dangerous on the counter though and Tammy Abraham had the ball in the net after Gazzaniga had spilled Alonso’s shot but it was ruled out for off-side. Our task then became extremely difficult when Son was sent off in the 62nd minute. The South Korean international and Rudiger chased a ball down the left flank, the Chelsea defender cleared the ball and Son fell to the ground, but then appeared to slightly raise his legs into Rudiger’s chest. It went to a VAR check and the decision was a red card.
That effectively ended the game as a contest. We tried to build up a head of steam to apply pressure on the Chelsea goal but the visitors were able to clear as we put a succession of crosses into the area. At the other end, Chelsea had a couple of chances, N’Golo Kante firing over and substitute Michy Batshuayi curling just wide during eight minutes of stoppage time, while we carved out a chance in the final seconds, Kane’s shot deflecting into the hands of Kepa. It was our first shot on target.
At 1-0 down, the game was very much in the balance but Chelsea’s second on the stroke of half-time was decisive. Gazzaniga could have caught the ball or punched it clear ahead of Alonso getting on the end of it, but missed his attempted kick and crashed into the Chelsea man in what looked like a nasty collision. There was little surprise when VAR awarded the penalty, Willian converting from 12 yards to leave us with a second-half mountain which we were ultimately unable to climb.
Jose Mourinho said: “In the second half we changed. We felt we needed to change, and we had much more control and we were in our best period of the game, and one goal would obviously change the game emotionally, because the game on the pitch had already changed. The first half was played in our half, and this first 15, 20 minutes of the second was much more in their half, the game changed. We were looking for a goal but instead of a goal, we received a red card and then the game is easy for them to control, players technically good, one player more. Then it was more difficult.”
Spurs 0-2 Chelsea
Spurs (4-2-3-1): Gazzaniga, Aurier, Alderweireld, Sanchez, Vertonghen (Rose 74), Dier (Eriksen 46), Sissoko, Lucas (Ndombele 74), Dele, Son, Kane (c). Subtitutes (not used): Vorm, Foyth, Winks, Lo Celso.
Chelsea (3-4-3): Arrizabalaga, Rudiger, Zouma, Tomori, Azpilcueta (c) (James 80), Kante, Kovacic (Jorginho 68), Alonso, Mount, Abraham (Batshuayi 80), Willian. Substitutes (not used): Caballero, Christensen, Hudson-Odoi, Pulisic.
Goals: Chelsea – Willian 12, 45+3 (pen).
Yellow cards: Spurs – Dele, Gazzaniga, Sissoko, Alderweireld; Chelsea – Zouma, Kovacic, Rudiger.
Red card: Spurs - Son.
Referee: Anthony Taylor.
Venue: Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Weather: Light cloud, gentle breeze, nine degrees.