CAPITAL ONE CUP FINAL
SUNDAY 1ST MARCH, 2015
CHELSEA 2(1) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 0(0)
Walker (o.g), 56
Referee:- Anthony Taylor
Assistants:- Lee Betts & Dave Bryan
Fourth official:- Craig Pawson
Chelsea (4-3-3-):- Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry ( Capt.), Azpilicueta; Ramires, Zouma, Fabregas (sub Oscar, 88); Willian (sub Cuadrado, 76), Diego Costa (sub Drogba, 93), Hazard
Subs not used:- Courtois; Filipe Luis, Ake, Remy
Booked:- Willian (foul on Rose), Cahill (foul on Kane), Cuadrado (foul on Rose)
Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Lloris (Capt.); Walker, Dier, Vertonghen, Rose; Mason (sub Lamela, 70), Bentaleb; Townsend (sub Dembele, 61), Eriksen, Chadli (sub Soldado, 79); Kane
Subs not used:- Vorm; Fazio, Davies; Stambouli
Booked:- Dier (foul on Diego Costa), Bentaleb (foul on Cuadrado)
Just another 12 "Cup Finals" to play then.
Spurs missed out on their last chance this season to add silverware to the White Hart Lane trophy cabinet, whilst Chelsea gained revenge for both their 2008 Carling Cup Final defeat, and the New Year's Day 5-3 Premier League defeat.
For Chelsea it was just another trophy to add to the cabinet alongside the other 11 won since Mr. Abramovich bought the club. In fairness, Jose Mourinho paid full respect to Spurs by fielding a strong side, perhaps his strongest, apart from the presence of Petr Cech in goal for Courtois.
I suspect that "The Special One" also did his homework on Spurs, and played a formation and style similar to that played successfully against us by Fiorentina. Chelsea looked like a 4-3-3, with Zouma replacing the suspended Matic in the middle of a midfield three flanked by Fabregas and Ramires. Diego Costa had Willian in support on his right, and the ever dangerous Hazard on his left.
For Spurs, Hugo Lloris got his only Capital One Cup start of the season. Eriksen was flanked by Townsend and Chadli, both of whom were substituted in the second half. Once all three Spurs substitutes were on and we played 4-4-2 to at least try and get a goal, I felt we had a better team on the park. In truth, neither Townsend or Chadli made much headway against a Chelsea defence determined not to succumb again to their London rivals.
Spurs once again had plenty of possession, but rarely bothered Cech, apart from an Eriksen free kick which rattled the bar after 9 minutes.
Harry Kane had plenty of endeavour, but he was well marked. Much as you might loathe him, Diego Costa is the type of centre-forward any club would love to have, and one whose skills Kane should aspire to. Yes, Costa is physical, and brutish at times, but with his back to goal, he so often received, controlled, turned and passed to a player in space, such as Willian or Hazard, both of whom had the movement and awareness to always be available. Usually, Spurs would grant such players the space they desired too, which was a luxury not reciprocated by the team in blue.
You need to allow yourself plenty of time to get into Wembley stadium, where automation slows down the process, as is so often the case. I made my upper tier seat just in time for kick-off, sitting with my son Greg, and Ray Lo. We had an excellent vantage point, directly above the half-way line, opposite the dug-outs.
Eric Dier made an excellent tackle upon Costa in the Spurs box after 5 minutes. Costa wasn't happy and wanted more than a corner. Referee Anthony Taylor had words with both players over their early ruction. Hugo Lloris had to stretch to push out a cross from the right for a corner, with John Terry looming.
After 8 minutes, a powerful and direct run by Harry Kane was unfairly halted by Fabregas, and Eriksen hit the free kick against the bar. After a Spurs throw from the right, Kane tried a shot from about 25 yards, but it was an easy pick-up for Cech. After another Spurs throw, both Ryan Mason and Christian Eriksen had shots blocked.
Diego Costa crossed from the left and Hazard had a shot which passed wide.
A foul by Ramires on Rose in the Spurs half went un-punished except for the free kick. Hazard needed treatment after a Chelsea free kick was awarded outside the area, which Spurs successfully defended. The wall blocked Willian's effort, and in the aftermath Cahill flattened Danny Rose, without punishment.
Willian fed a ball to Hazard, but Spurs again defended well, and cleared. The teams were evenly matched, but it is true to say that Chelsea looked the more dangerous in the last third.
It was Eric Dier who got the first booking of the game for a foul on Costa, keen to make the most of the situation. A good shot by Eriksen was turned around his right post by Cech at the end of a move also involving Danny Rose and Nacer Chadli. Townsend did lead a break down the right and passed inside to Chadli, who tried a shot from distance, but failed by a good margin. Mason was then similarly off target, when fed by Chadli.
Kyle Walker needed some treatment after a midfield challenge, before Chadli conceded a free kick on Chelsea's right flank bringing down Ivanovic. Willian took the kick which was not cleared cleanly by the Spurs defence, with the ball falling kindly for Terry, who fired home, perhaps with the assistance of a deflection. In added time, Lloris made a save on the line from a Zouma header.
The Chelsea fans, who had been hitherto quiet, found their voices.
After the break, Danny Rose exchanged with Chadli, before hitting a low cross, which Cech collected. After a Chelsea throw from the right, Lloris was down well to his left to save an overhead kick by Fabregas. Chelsea then scored what proved to be the killer goal, when Fabregas fed the ball across the area to Costa, who was on the left. Costa hit an angled shot across the goal, which took a slight deflection off Kyle Walker at the far post, defeating Lloris in front of the Chelsea end, which now became more boisterous.
The rain was falling quite heavily and persistently in the second half, and those fans in the lower seats suffered, for the price of £72 a ticket.
Bentaleb, who had a very competent game in the defensive midfield position, hit a shot well over the goal after a Townsend pass. After this move, Townsend was replaced by Dembele.
Lloris had to make a save to his left when Hazard hit a shot across his goal, and then when Danny Rose could only help on a cross from the left, Fabregas also headed wide.
Dembele made his usual cardinal sin by getting into a shooting position but passing inside to Eriksen, thus abrogating himself of responsibility for any attempt on goal.
Mason was replaced by Lamela, and Spurs won a free kick when Cahill got booked for stopping Harry Kane in his tracks. Eric Dier was called offside from the free kick, and his challenger Azpilicueta made the most of a head injury, which, in fairness, did lead to him having his head bandaged.
Vertonghen tried a reflex shot from a Spurs corner, taken on the left, but the ball passed wide of Cech's goal. Lamela battled for a ball which ran for him, and fell for Kane down the right side. Harry crossed for Chadli, but he hadn't quite read the cross correctly, and couldn't get a shot in.
Chelsea's most recent signing Cuadrado hadn't been on that long after replacing Willian, but got a booking for up-ending Danny Rose.
Spurs' final substitute Roberto Soldado gave a through ball to Eriksen, whose shot was blocked for a corner. Harry Kane battled away and won another corner as we entered the 4 minutes of added time, and Soldado had a flicked shot go wide of the target.
Veteran Didier Drogba was allowed the briefest of appearances to replace Costa, and most Spurs fans had either left, or were on their way out when the final whistle was blown.
It has been a great day for Chelsea, because their closest Premier League rivals were beaten 2-1 at Liverpool today. Arsenal went third by beating Everton, which only adds to the pain of Spurs fans, for whom top four looks a few points too far away.
Chelsea's victory does mean (assuming they retain top four status) that sixth place would secure another season of Europa League football. Spurs must treat every one of their 12 remaining league games as Cup Finals, and seek to achieve the highest place possible. It is vital that the squad bounce back from today's disappointment with a home victory against Swansea on Wednesday night.
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