Chelsea and Tottenham saw out an entertaining draw at Stamford Bridge on AVB’s return.
Oscar’s early contribution was cancelled out by an Adebayor spectacular, before Ramires restored the Blues’ lead. Sigurdsson equalised once again as the spoilts were shared.
It was a match with two different motives. Chelsea are unbeaten in their last 25 home games versus Spurs in all competitions. The last time Spurs won at Chelsea was in 1990 when Nelson Mandela was still in prison.
Any worries of a cagey game were quickly wiped out in the early stages. Both team had a clear vision for the match: playing to win. For Tottenham, it was a must, to not only keep their Champions League ambitions realistic, but perhaps to keep hold of star players such as Gareth Bale. For Chelsea, a win would guarantee a Champions League berth and a significant improvement on last season’s sixth-placed finish.
Gareth Bale looked to continue his astonishing streak, but the holding partnership of Ramires and David Luiz, who was making his 100th start for Chelsea this evening, looked to be keeping the Welshman at bay. Chelsea, meanwhile, are blessed with more than one star playmaker, and Eden Hazard was in no mood to mess about after his missing of the Manchester United victory at the weekend, displaying fine touches and impeccable dribbling abilities.
The warning signs had been coming and it was Oscar who grabbed the game’s first goal. An inswinging corner was met by Gary Cahill who rose highest, but his header was going off target before the vital intervention of Oscar at the back-post. The Spurs back-line had two players guarding the near post, playing the Brazilian clearly on-side, but Oscar evaded everybody and set Chelsea on their way.
Holtby had an effort, whilst at the other end, Dawson was throwing his body around to keep the scoreline so, and it would need something special from Tottenham to penetrate Petr Cech’s goal.
Adebayor gave just that. From a Chelsea corner, Tottenham counter-attacked and though Azpilicueta, Cole and Cahill were in place, all were back-tracking and when Adebayor sensed nobody was going to close him down, the big Togo striker curled past Petr Cech to draw the match level.
Stamford Bridge was left stunned after a period of consummate ease, but Tottenham have scored more goals from outside the box than any other team in the Premier League this season. This time, however, it was not Gareth Bale.
It was an end-to-end match, with Gareth Bale taking the ball in his stride, only to see his shot stopped by a last-ditch Gary Cahill block, whilst Jan Vertonghen’s wonderful pass to Adebayor needed a Ba-esque finish, but the outstretched leg of Adebayor could not reap the rewards of Ba against Manchester United in the FA Cup last month.
Where Adebayor’s goal was of individual brilliance, the next goal of the game was wonderful team play. Torres played around with the ball on the right wing and his pass to Oscar was gotten to first by Ramires, who took the ball in his stride and thumped it past Lloris on the stretch, to record his fifth Premier League goal. It was a wonderful goal to cap off a thrilling half.
The suspense and excitement continued where it left off in the second half. Chelsea ought to have made it three ten minutes in when Mata and Oscar found Hazard. The Belgian left Dawson for dead, but his shot was neither a chip to the far post to Torres, nor a confident drive, and ended up high and wide. Would it prove costly?
It definitely ought to have been three on the hour mark. From a Tottenham corner, Eden Hazard’s sublime touch found Mata, who unfortunately did not have the pace to outrun Dawson. His pass to Ramires presented the Brazilian with an open goal, but Ramires fell at just the wrong moment and the opportunity passed up.
The pitch was proving slippy on several occasions as Oscar fell twice with presentable chances, and Mike Dean had to be alert whether falls were due to slips or challenges when opponents were in close proximity.
The referee, officiating his 50th match, was keeping his cool with no cards shown for 78 minutes as the game was allowed to flow.
Dempsey was introduced to inject life into his side and the American nearly scored but for an Ivanovic block. The Chelsea back-line were standing resolute.
It was, however, another Villas-Boas substitute that provided the equaliser. Assou-Ekotto’s pass to Adebayor was laid off to Sigurdsson, who side-footed home to create a tense finale.
Dempsey fired straight at Cech as the board for four extra minutes was raised, as the action was ceaseless. Tottenham won a free-kick deep into the injury time but Gareth Bale could not produce his heroics this time. Matters are now taken out of their hands, but for Chelsea, it will be seen as two points dropped.