BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
WEDNESDAY 8TH MAY, 2013
CHELSEA 2 (2) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2 (1)
Referee:- Mike Dean
Assistants:- Mr. J. Collin & Mr. J. Brooks
Fourth official:- Mr. J. Moss
Chelsea (4-4-1-1):- Cech (Capt.); Azpilicueta, Cahill, Ivanovic, Cole; Oscar (sub Benayoun, 84), Ramires, David Luiz, Hazard (sub Moses, 73); Mata; Torres
Subs not used:- Turnbull; Terry; Lampard, Ake; Ba
Booked:- Ramires (foul on Bale)
Spurs (4-4-1-1); Lloris; Walker, Dawson ( Capt.), Vertonghen, Assou-Ekotto; Lennon (sub Sigurdsson, 62), Huddlestone, Parker, Holtby (sub Dempsey, 70); Bale; Adebayor
Subs not used:- Friedel; Naughton, Caulker; Carroll; Defoe
Booked:- Vertonghen (foul on Torres), Bale ( foul on Ramires)
Moments of magic!
In the end, it was a magnificent team effort by Spurs to draw level with a Chelsea team that had looked faster than us in thought and action. Emmanuel Adebayor scored a simply magnificent solo long range goal to pull us back to 1-1 after Oscar's 10th minute goal, and in the second half, the much maligned Togo international laid on substitute Gylfi Sigurdsson's 80th minute equaliser to make it 2-2.
Spurs might even have snatched victory, when Gareth Bale took a free kick at the very end of normal time. Bale did hit THE free kick, but goalkeeper Petr Cech was well-positioned to gather the ball comfortably.
It wasn't the dream result we needed to keep our Champions League destiny in our own hands, but it does make things interesting, with Chelsea pegged back, and Arsenal playing two teams fighting relegation, and perhaps able to snatch a point or more off our nearest rivals for fourth.
Whatever happens, I was proud of the effort put in by our lads, and proud to be a Spurs fan at Stamford Bridge tonight.
Rafa Benitez paid us the respect of fielding arguably Chelsea's strongest team, with David Luiz and Ramirez playing on front of the back four, which did not include John Terry. Frank Lampard was also denied a place in a game where he was seeking to at least match Bobby Tambling's long standing scoring record for Chelsea.
Chelsea started strongly, and Benoit Assou-Ekotto intercepted an Ashley Cole cross within the first minute. After 6 minutes, Torres knocked down a half clearance by a shaky Michael Dawson,but thankfully, Mata fired over.
Spurs had a nice move after7 minutes thanks to a neat exchange between Adebayor and Lennon. Adebayor passed inside to Huddlestone, but his shot required more power to truly test Cech.
Spurs conceded a cheap corner, as a result of Michael Dawson's glancing touch on a ball he could have left. The kick was taken by Mata; headed down by Cahill, and too easily converted by Oscar at the back post.
Spurs responded with a good passing move involving Huddlestone, Assou-Ekotto, Holtby, Adebayor and Lennon, but we were unable to get a shot in. Kyle Walker got forward to good effect today, and when he passed inside to Lewis Holtby, the German Midfielder hit a shot just wide of Cech's left post. Holtby was arguably playing in his favoured number 10 slot.
Chelsea, no doubt with full size flags sponsored by the club, had tried to claim some history pre-match with a slogan quoting "1905 - London's first -London's finest". God knows the foundation for that statement.
Anyway, after 16 minutes, the magnificent Spurs fans were singing "You've got no history" when Oscar and Azpilicueta combined before feeding the ball to Mata, who fired over. Brave Michael Dawson blocked an Eden Hazard shot full face concede a corner.
After 25 minutes, Scott Parker was fouled in his own half, and referee Mike Dean allowed a magnificent play-on, allowing Adebayor to make a fantastic run down the left channel, before lifting a magnificent shot over Cech, hitting the net at the far post. It was most definitely his best goal this season, and arguably his best Spurs goal.
We hadn't seen a lot of Bale, who had started on the left today. After
29 minutes, and some great midfield play by Holtby, Bale was given the ball and had a run at goal, where his run faltered, with no end result. Bale had another half-chance after moe good combination play by Holtby and Adebayor, but that came to nought too.
Adebayor got on the end of a long ball by Assou-Ekotto, but fired over the target.
Chelsea always looked dangerous when in the Spurs half, and went 2-1 up after Torres managed to play a ball into the precise spot between two Spurs defenders, where Ramires was able to latch onto the pass and fire low past Lloris.
Huddlestone, playing the deeper midfield role, tried a long ball over the top for Bale, but it just ran too far ahead of Gareth. Walker made good progress after exchanges with both Lennon and Adebayor, but hit his shot just too wide of Cech's left post.
At the other end, Chelsea were able to pull the Spurs defence inside out. Hazard sent a ball from the left, but Lloris was down well to Oscar's shot. Before the break, Scott Parker ran with the ball, after a break out of defence, and hit a shot, which passed over the goal.
There was some embarrassment at half-time when the Chelsea MC went all the way round the ground seemingly having to explain to all the "nouveau" Chelsea fans, stand by stand, that the man by his side, John Dempsey was a "European Champion". Dempsey was a veteran of the early 70s European Cup-Winners Cup side. Any member of any of Spurs European trophy winning sides would not need such repeated introduction, as did Dempsey.
Spurs started the second half in tentative fashion, and seemed to be playing "Leave it to someone else football", with no-one seeking to take responsibility for a significant pass, or move forward.
After an awful error by Dawson, Chelsea won a corner, and not long after that, Mata passed to his left but Ramires fell over and required treatment. His pride might have been injured more than his bones though.
Sigurdsson replaced Lennon, and took up station on the left, with Bale moving to the right side.
Oscar fouled Assou-Ekotto near the corner, but there was no card.
Huddlestone took the free kick, and Jan Vertonghen tried a scissor kick at the back post, but failed.
Despite a great piece of play between Holtby and Adebayor, the resulting run by Bale came to nought, as he ran into a defensive wall, looking for a free kick, with no success.
Holtby was soon replaced by Dempsey, and it soon became clear that Spurs were going all out to gain something from the game. Adebayor made a good break, and passed to his right of Dempsey, whose shot was deflected for a corner.
Vertonghen took a yellow card for a foul on Torres, and from the free kick David Luiz hit his shot outside Lloris's left post.
Spurs scored a second goal, and a second equaliser with ten minutes of normal time remaining. Huddlestone hit an effective pass from the deep midfield to Assou-Ekotto on the left. He fed the ball to Adebayor, who very skilfully and cleverly flicked the ball into the path of Sigurdsson, who fired low past Cech. It was a great move, and a great goal.
Spurs desperately tried to snatch a win in the closing stages. Firstly Adebayor was flagged offside for a Huddlestone ball. Then, after another helpful "play-on" from the referee, Spurs broke forward through Parker. Bale and Huddlestone then shared passes, before Bale fired over.
Bale was doing his bit helping out the defence, and got a yellow card for halting Ramires in his tracks. Huddlestone gave Dempsey a chance, but his shot was wide. Then Bale was fouled not too far outside the area. He took the kick himself and it was THE free kick, struck with dip and spin, but Cech was well positioned.
Chelsea had hoped to wrap up Champions League qualification with a win tonight, but they have not quite grasped that prize yet. Whilst Spurs now need to to see one or both of their opponents lose a point or two (and win their own remaining games), the fact is that we do still have everything to play for. Next stop Stoke City!
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