WEDNESDAY 9TH JANUARY, 2002
WORTHINGTON CUP SEMI-FINAL 1ST LEG
CHELSEA 2 (1) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1 (0)
Referee:- A. Wiley
Chelsea (4-4-2/3-5-2):- Cudicini; Melchiot, Desailly (Capt), Terry, Babayaro; Dalla Bona, Morris (sub Ferrer, 18), Lampard, Zola (sub Jokanovic, 65); Gudjohnsen (sub Forsell, 72), Hasselbaink
Subs not used:- De Goey; Keenan
Spurs (3-5-1-1):- Keller; Perry, King, Gardner; Taricco, Davies, Anderton, Freund (sub Sherwood, 29), Ziege; Poyet (Capt); Ferdinand (sub Rebrov, 88)
Subs not used:- Sullivan; Thelwell, Etherington
Booked:- Anderton (Dissent)
Just after missing one superb one on one chance to equalise against Cudicini, Les Ferdinand scored a vital away goal for Spurs, but two flashes of Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink magic gave Chelsea the half time lead in this semi-final. At the end of the day, Chelsea do have the edge, and only if we win 1-0 at home will the away goal count. Our back three performed magnificently tonight, and Teddy Sheringham (suspended for this and the next two games) will be available at the Lane, so we live in hope.
Despite Sheringham's absence, Hoddle chose to leave Rebrov on the bench, giving Captain for the evening, Gus Poyet, the responsibility to support Ferdinand up front.Dean Richards is of course cup-tied, but once again Anthony Gardner filled the vacancy competently. Even Tim Sherwood, who replaced the injured Steffen Freund after just 29 minutes, played well, immediately making vital interceptions, and spraying the ball around to good effect. Chelsea were missing the suspended Le Saux, but fielded a pretty full strength side, with Ranieri choosing to support both Terry and Morris granted bail earlier in the day on Assault and Affray charges. Chelsea chairman said in his programme notes "I suppose that I should address the matter of our errant footballers". Whilst he said the right things after that, surely it was an issue he had to address.
Back to the football, and a big crowd saw a tight start, with most of the play keenly fought in the middle early on, and no real chances. Chelsea's twin-pronged attack of Hasselbaink and Gudjohnsen were looking sharp though, and Spurs had given Cudicini no trouble before the home side took a tenth minute lead. Hasselbaink cleverly dummied the through ball that went to Gudjohnsen, who immediately sent it past the defence where Jimmy Floyd had burst through to have only Keller to beat. Kasey stood no chance, and the omens were not looking good.
Spurs started to get some good possession though, and Gus Poyet crossed from the right for Les to control well, and shoot on the turn, but wide and above the target. Keller was somewhat startled by a Hasselbaink free kick on 23 minutes, which he could only parry, but the ball was cleared safely. Anderton sent Davies away down the right, and Simon sent a powerful cross that went in front of goal, to be returned and cleared for a corner. Ziege took the kick, and the ball reached Taricco who hit a decent shot over the goal.
After Sherwood joined the play, Spurs actually dominated possession for a while. Ziege was in a good position in the box, and stopped chasing the ball thinking he had been impeded. If only he had played to the whistle and followed up, he may have got some reward. Instead Chelsea countered quickly and effectively, with Gudjohnsen's shot being deflected and saved by Keller. Gus Poyet would have loved to have scored at his old home, and had a chance when Ferdinand headed down an Anderton cross. Gus's shot was wide and did not even reach the bye line, as Chelsea cleared with ease. Spurs had a good chance to equalise before the break, when Ziege stole the ball with his head from Dalla Bona, ran down the left, and crossed for Ferdinand, whose near post glance only went across the goal, and wide.
After the break, Ranieri decided to match Glenn's 3-5-2 formation, putting Ferrer on as right wing-back, and bringing Melchiot into the back three. Spurs resisted the early forays well, before Simon Davies got into a deep position on the right. His cross was cleared as far as Taricco who stabbed a right foot shot over the bar from the edge of the box. The Gudjohnsen-Hasselbaink partnership nearly bore more fruit after 58 minutes, when Gudjohnsen was tackled and the ball ran to Jimmy Floyd who curled a shot just over the far corner, and then stomped repeatedly up and down in his frustration at missing the target.
Minutes later Hasselbaink was in the box again, and Keller saved his shot from a sharp angle. The ball ran to Perry who had time to clear the ball safely. Then came the golden first chance for Les Ferdinand. It was Gus Poyet who put him in the clear, and I have to say that Les did look offside. The flag stayed down though, and it was almost as if Les could not believe his luck as he had time to spare in front of Cudicini. Ferdinand tried to run the ball round the keeper but the ball was collected from his feet. In my view he should have chipped the keeper with ease.
All was well though, when three minutes after that, determined play from Sherwood and Gardner gave Les a second chance in front of goal. Les didn't fail this time, and although the keeper got a touch the ball hit the net, and the Spurs contingent sniffed a respectable draw and great hopes of a trip to Cardiff. The referee's decision to penalise Gardner's clearance seemed harsh, and it took an age for him to be satisfied with the wall, before he gave the signal for Hasselbaink to take his kick. Keller started going to his right and was wrong-footed, as the 25 yards shot went to his left and crashed the net.
Kasey may have been lucky not to concede a penalty when he seemed to catch the ankle of substitute Mikael Forsell as he advanced goalward after 83 minutes, but Mr Wiley was not interested, to our relief. Once again Rebrov was allowed to take part too late in proceedings, and one felt that the tiring Poyet needed a rest more than anyone.
It was the Chelsea fans that were baying for the final whistle to be blown, but with the blues track record over Spurs, they will be feeling the more confident in two weeks time. I fancy that Neil Sullivan may be back in goal at Ipswich this Saturday.
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