BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
SATURDAY 30TH APRIL, 2011
CHELSEA 2 (1) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1 (1)
Referee:- Andre Marriner
Assistants:- Mr. M. Cairns & Mr. M. Yerby
Fourth Official:- Chris Foy
Chelsea (4-2-3-1):- Cech; Ivanovic, David Luiz, Terry (Capt.), Cole; Essien (sub Ramires, 57), Mikel; Torres (sub Kalou, 62), Lampard, Malouda (sub Anelka, 73); Drogba
Subs not used:- Turnbull; Alex; Benayoun, Zhirkov
Booked:- Ivanovic (foul on Bale), Drogba (Dissent), Terry (foul on Kaboul)
Spurs (4-4-1-1):- Gomes; Kaboul, Gallas, Dawson (Capt.), Corluka (sub Pienaar, 78); Lennon, Sandro, Modric, Bale; Van der Vaart (sub Jenas, 85); Pavlyuchenko (sub Defoe, 58)
Subs not used:- Cudicini; Bassong; Rose, Crouch
Cheated at Chelsea
Those Spurs fans who wish for our team not to qualify for Europe at all, if the Champions League is untenable may get their wish. If Liverpool beat Newcastle at Anfield today, the “scousers” will take fifth place off Spurs, who were well and truly cheated out of a result at Stamford Bridge. Television replays have shown conclusively that Lampard’s 45th minute “equaliser” did not cross Gomes’ line, after another howler by the enigmatic keeper, who did just manage to claw the ball back literally off the goal-line. It looked to me as if linesman Cairns had not given the goal, but then in a minute of confusion, it turned out that from a position where 6 years ago a linesman had been unable to see Roy Carroll cheat Spurs when the ball had crossed the line by a good three or four feet, this linesman could somehow see that the ball had allegedly crossed the line by the very thinnest of margins. The fact is the ball did not cross the line. The goal should not have stood, and Chelsea should have gone in at half-time one down.
The officials compounded their errors in favour of the home side, when substitute Kalou scored a late, late winner from what turned out to be an offside position. The officials were less culpable for this mistake, which is of the kind that we see week-in, week-out. It just hurts, that’s all. It hurts a lot, and it could hurt ENIC’S pocket to the tune of £20 - £30 million, which is the potential premium for Champions League football. We had so much hope too, after Spurs’ Brazilian wonder-kid Sandro scored a real cracker of a goal in the 19th minute to give Spurs a lead they showed every chance of holding. An unlikely win would still have made fourth place unlikely in the light of Manchester City’s remaining programme and advantage, but it is surely out of the question now.
Harry Redknapp sprung something of a surprise, with Ekotto missing, by playing Vedran Corluka at left back. Lennon was re-instated to provide width on the right, whilst Gareth Bale offered the same on the left of midfield. Van der Vaart played behind Pavlyuchenko. Chelsea played both Drogba and Torres, with Essien and Mikel the defensive part of the Chelsea midfield and Lampard and Malouda offering attack, beside either Drogba or Torres, who switched occasionally, so that one played behind the other. Indeed, Torres offered a fair amount of early danger to Spurs, playing deep on the right flank, jousting with Corluka, who was in unfamiliar territory.
Overall though, Lennon and Bale were neutralised, sometimes unfairly, but Gareth Bale currently looks human and not super-human as he looked earlier in the season. Sandro played a starring role for Spurs, winning his battles at the back, but offering plenty of skill and support going forward, capped by a superb debut goal. How he can be left out in favour of Huddlestone, when fit, is beyond my comprehension. Modric was also to the fore for Tottenham, and at times Van der Vaart also offered real quality in tandem with the Croatian when working opportunities for Spurs.
It was a glorious sunny late spring evening, and the atmosphere was as hot as you’d expect, with Spurs baiting the likes of John Terry, but lauding “Sandro, Sandro, Tottenham Hotspur’s Brazilian Yiddo”, somewhat in defiance of Chelsea fan David Baddiel’s “Y word” campaign. Baddiel came in for more direct abuse too.
Spurs were well organised, with everyone supporting the defence when needed, but managing to get forward to good effect too. The first such occasion was after three minutes, when Bale’s break down the left was brought to a halt by David Luiz, who is so special that he has to be addressed by his first and second names apparently. They are both on the back of his shirt. At the other end, Drogba teed up Lampard with a good touch, but determined defending by Sandro saw Spurs clear this threat. Spurs had a quick break out of defence after 8 minutes, and Kaboul fed Pavlyuchenko, whose shot went wide across Cech’s goal.
Torres crossed from the right, but the ball passed in front of the advancing Lampard. Torres was proving effective in this position and had a shot hit the side netting, after he left Corluka behind. A Drogba free kick from about 35 yards out after 12 minutes hit the bar, and after some follow-up play, Essien had a shot held by Gomes. Three minutes later, Ashley Cole in an advanced position as ever, fed the ball to Malouda, who worked his way into the left side of the Spurs area, hit a shot, which again was held by Gomes.
Spurs responded to the Chelsea attacks in magnificent fashion. They attacked down the left flank, and Van der vaart provided the final pass for Sandro lurking some 30 yards out, before the young Brazilian hit a fantastic curling shot that beat Cech in his top right corner. Spurs fans were in ecstasy!
Essien had another effort on goal – this one a header – following a corner, and Gomes saved again. From a second corner, Torres headed over, and drew chants of “What a waste of money”. Cole got goal-side of Kaboul, but the Spurs right back recovered well to clear. Lennon was subject to “words” from the referee after a foul on Drogba. Ivanovic saw yellow though for his cynical foul on the advancing Bale. Van der Vaart’s free kick came to nought. John Terry was getting forward on occasions and he was also subject of “words” for a harsh challenge on Corluka.
Just when it looked as if Spurs would go into half time in the lead, Lampard was being allowed too much space well outside the area. He recived the ball from Drogba who was out wide, and drilled a low and powerful shot that squirmed under Gomes, rolling slowly enough to the line that Gomes could claw it back and clear. It looked as if the linesman had endorsed the goalkeeper’s clearance initially, but then came confusion and the delayed award of a goal to the home side. The sense of injustice will never be forgotten by Spurs fans.
Drogba got a yellow for arguing with the referee after the break, when the referee over-ruled his linesman over a throw-in decision. It’s a pity he hadn’t over-ruled regarding the “goal”. Gomes was in action again after 52 minutes, patting away a 25 yard effort by Drogba. Both Ancelotti and Redknapp made early changes, with Ramires replacing Essien, and Defoe replacing Pavlyuchenko. Torres was also replaced after 62 minutes by Kalou. Gomes failed to hold a Chelsea free kick at this point, but the ball rebounded off a Chelsea player for a goal-kick.
Spurs had a decent spell then, with Van der Vaart and Modric to the fore. Defoe had a shot deflected, and then after a corner and a ball by Modric to Bale, the Welshman’s shot went miles wide. Deoe was brought down by David Luiz, but no card was shown. Spurs wasted the free kick, which sadly is too often the case. I also noticed that they failed to take all the potential advantage of attacking throws, with no player venturing behind the defence down the line. I am convinced that players do not realise they cannot be offside from a throw at times. Spurs were also mysteriously not using width, with Bale often turning up in a central position.
Lampard had a 69th minute effort pass wide across the goal mouth. Corluka was replaced by Pienaar, at which point Bale reverted to left back. It looked as if Spurs were going to at least hold on for a point, until the 89th minute, when Drogba seemed to scuff a shot across the area and at the far post substitute Kalou fired home. Spurs fans at the other end of the stadium did not realise that this goal was scored by a player who had been offside at the time of Drogba’s shot/pass, which is probably just as well from a crowd safety and public order situation.
It’s going to be a fraught and arduous run-in now for Spurs, who will need to show real strength of character if they are not to finish the season totally empty handed. It begins to look as if Anfield on May 15th and not Eastlands on May 10th will see our fate decided.
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