Late goal, but nothing to show from Chelsea trip
Chelsea 2-1 Spurs
Sat 22 February 2020, 14:03|Tottenham Hotspur
A late breakthrough gave us renewed hope, but there was to be no equaliser as Chelsea claimed a 2-1 win at Stamford Bridge to maintain their ground in the race to finish in the top four on Saturday lunchtime.
Olivier Giroud had given the Blues the lead inside 15 minutes and although we managed to test goalkeeper Willy Caballero through Lucas Moura and Davinson Sanchez in the first period, we were left with a tough task on our hands when Marcos Alonso slid home for 2-0 just after the restart.
Substitute Erik Lamela's low drive in from the left spun into the net at the near post off Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger late on, but despite a minute left of normal time and four more added on, we couldn't muster another attempt at goal as the gap between Frank Lampard's men in fourth and ourselves in fifth grew once more to four points. A reverse result would have seen us leapfrog the Blues into the Champions League qualification places.
Lucas saw a 10th-minute shot pushed away by Caballero but Chelsea made an energetic, pressing start against our five-man back line and after Hugo Lloris - making his 250th Premier League appearance - denied Mason Mount at his near post and Ross Barkley dragged across goal and wide, they forced their way in front on the quarter-of-an-hour mark. Lloris saved Giroud's initial attempt with his legs, Barkley hit the woodwork on the follow-up before Giroud picked up the ball once more and finally hit the back of the net with a chopped finish beyond his fellow France international.
Alonso floated an effort just over the bar on the second phase following a free-kick for Chelsea but we were starting to take control of the midfield areas as the first period progressed and fashioned a handful of openings. Lucas' angled shot was deflected behind, Sanchez forced Caballero to claw his header from the resulting corner over the bar and Japhet Tanganga was the unlikely figure running through on goal after a long ball over the top, but his first touch left him with too much to do and ultimately Caballero wasn't troubled.
Unfortunately, a second goal for the hosts just three minutes into the second half made life difficult. Mount's low ball across the 18-yard line from the right was ferried on by Barkley to Alonso, who had the space to pick his spot and fire low across Lloris into the corner of the net. Lloris subsequently denied Barkley while Tanguy Ndombele worked his way into the box at the other end but hesitated to shoot and ended up colliding with Reece James.
A couple of set-pieces into Chelsea's area didn't cause Caballero any real problems and after substitute Tammy Abraham had been thwarted by Lloris, with Mount subsequently dispossessed in a dangerous position in the box, it was the Blues who went close to adding to the scoreline with a set-piece of their own as Alonso cracked a 20-yard free-kick against the bar.
With the game petering out, a breakthrough came out of nothing in the 89th minute as Lamela wriggled free on the left and his low ball in was deflected home by Rudiger. But any hopes of a revival didn't come to fruition and Chelsea had the final chance when Willian - off the bench for Barkley - was denied by Lloris.
Chelsea's second goal just after half-time proved decisive in the end. Barkley had the wherewithal to give Mount's low ball across the 18-yard line to Alonso in space and he drilled beyond Lloris. We were unable to claw back a two-goal deficit.
Speaking to us at Stamford Bridge, Jose Mourinho said: "The players gave everything for the shirt, for the Club, for the fans. I cannot be critical. We know that if the opponent scores before us, it’s difficult for us. The opponent knows that if they press high, we cannot go long because we don’t have a target, a player to connect the game and when they are winning and drop the block, it’s difficult for us to get through. Even so, the boys played with great pride and tried everything until the last second, but the result is a defeat. As a coach, there are defeats and defeats. The boys gave everything. I can’t complain."
Reaction on Spurs TV
Chelsea 2-1 Spurs
Chelsea (3-4-2-1): Caballero, Azpilicueta (c), Rudiger, Christensen, James, Jorginho, Kovacic, Alonso, Barkley (Willian 77), Mount, Giroud (Abraham 71). Substitutes (not used): Kepa, Zouma, Emerson, Gilmour, Loftus-Cheek.
Spurs (5-3-2): Lloris (c), Tanganga, Alderweireld (Aurier 78), Sanchez, Vertonghen, Davies, Winks, Ndombele (Lamela 62), Lo Celso, Bergwijn (Dele 78), Lucas. Substitutes (not used): Gazzaniga, Dier, Gedson, Skipp.
Goals: Chelsea - Giroud 15, Alonso 48; Spurs - Rudiger (OG) 89.
Yellow cards: Chelsea - Christensen 65; Spurs - Winks 23, Lo Celso 81.
Referee: Michael Oliver.
Venue: Stamford Bridge.
Weather: Blustery winds, 13 degrees.