Tottenham battled back twice to draw against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Emmanuel Adebayor equalised in the first half and substitute Gylfi Sigurdsson scored the only goal of the second half as Spurs finished strongly. Spurs, Chelsea and Arsenal are separated by only three points in the race for the Champions League.
Chelsea 2 Tottenham Hotspur 2
Scorers: Oscar, Ramires Adebayor, Sigurdsson
Team: Lloris; Walker, Dawson, Vertonghen, Assou-Ekotto; Lennon (Sigurdsson), Huddlestone, Parker, Holtby (Dempsey); Adebayor, Bale Subs: (unused) Friedel, Caulker, Naughton, Carroll, DefoeAndre Villas-Boas made three changes to the Tottenham team from the match with Southampton – Scott Parker returned in place of the injured Mousa Dembele with Lewis Holtby replacing Clint Dempsey and Adebayor starting ahead of Jermain Defoe. The team was the best possible available once the news broke that the Belgian was out due to the injury.
A match of great importance to both teams as they battled for a top-4 finish and Champions League football next season was played at a fast tempo with both sides looking to get forward quickly. A win would secure it for the home side while Spurs needed to win all three of their final matches to be assured of a Champions League place for the second time. The draw takes Spurs challenge out of their own hands and they now require Arsenal or Chelsea to drop points in one of their final two matches.
Chelsea had the greater control and threat through the match and went ahead after 10 minutes when Oscar headed in from a corner. Poor marking by Spurs made their task much easier with Cahill winning the first ball and as it fell Parker lost his man, leaving Oscar to stoop and head in unopposed at the back post. Spurs had again conceded at a corner with no-one on the back post. Spurs responded well but it was a surprise to everyone when they drew level after 26 minutes through a special goal from Adebayor.
Spurs had struggled to clear from another corner but the ball came out and through tenacious play by Parker they won the ball, it fell to Holtby who poked it to Adebayor inside his own half. The striker set off with Chelsea backing away allowing him to approach the area so Adebayor shot, curling the ball beyond the reach of Cech.
Chelsea continued to pose the greater threat with their midfield causing constant problems and looking to play the ball quickly. A speedy attack on the left caught Spurs stretched and Ramires was played in and shooting first time across goal gave Lloris no chance after 38 minutes.
The second half continued as the first with Tottenham under pressure from fast Chelsea raids and at times they struggled to play the ball out from defence. Chelsea were dangerous in attack with great movement and had a number of chances to increase their lead. The most obvious was on the hour when Ramires was played into the area but slipped as he went to shoot. Spurs battled away and showed great spirit and gradually posed some threat going forward.Gylfi Siggurdsson had replaced Lennon and Clint Dempsey came on for Holtby. Adebayor linked with Dempsey whose shot was deflected for a corner. Then with with ten minutes to play as Villas-Boas was considering a further substitution by introducing Tom Carroll Spurs drew level with a well created goal. Tottenham had built up a little spell of pressure and regained the ball in midfield. It was played wide to Benoit Assou-Ekotto who curled a cross in to Adebayor in the area. The striker back-heeled the ball towards Sigurdsson who drove it across goal and past Cech.
Tottenham were greatly encouraged by the goal and almost immediately Huddlestone played Adebayor in but the striker was incorrectly flagged offside. Then Bale had a shot but it went over as Spurs finished strongly. With three minutes to play Adebayor broke and played the ball wide to Parker but his cross was easily gathered by Cech. Parker had another cross but it was just too far ahead of the late arriving Sigurdsson.
Play went from end to end through those final ten minutes but neither side could find the winning goal they really wanted. Tottenham had two further opportunities in the four minutes of added time through Dempsey who shot weakly at Cech and a free-kick from Bale in the final seconds. Stamford Bridge held its breath as Bale prepared. His shot went over the wall but lacked the power and direction to beat the goalkeeper.
Spurs deserved a point for their battling performance in which they had 14 attempts at goal and the greater possession through the game – 55.9% according to SkySports. At any other time in the season a point for Tottenham at Stamford Bridge would be received with great delight given their record there, on this occasion it is tinged with disappointment as in the bigger picture of qualification for the Champions League, Arsenal are the winners from last night’s result. They have regained control of their season, knowing that wins over Wigan at home and away to Newcastle will deny Spurs yet again. From Tottenham’s perspective, nothing has really changed as they still need to win the final two games to have any chance of making it into Europe’s top competition.