Tottenham had much the better of the first half against Chelsea at White Hart Lane but with only a one goal lead to show at the interval, Chelsea came back in the second half to equalise but finished with ten men when Fernando Torres was sent off with ten minutes left.
Tottenham Hotspur 1 Chelsea 1
Scorers: Sigurdsson Terry
Team: Lloris; Walker, Dawson, Vertonghen, Naughton; PAulinho, Dembele; Townsend (Chadli), Eriksen (Holtby), Sigurdsson; Soldado (Defoe) Subs: (unused) Friedel, Chiriches, Sandro, Lamela
The proverbial game of two halves where Spurs should have had more than the single goal advantage at the interval but the introduction of Juan Mata at the start of the second half improved Chelsea’s play as they responded to Jose Mourinho’s half-time talk and pressed Tottenham much more quickly to push them back and deny them time to play out from the back. Chelsea equalised midway through the half and then played out the last ten minutes with only ten men after Fernando Torres was sent off after a running feud with Jan Vertonghen.
Andre Villas-Boas selected the team that defeated Cardiff last week, Danny Rose having failed or recover from injury.
After an initial period of testing each other out Tottenham started to look the more threatening pushing Chelsea back and being much quicker in midfield where Christian Eriksen, Paulinho and Mousa Dembele were getting the better of their Chelsea counterparts. Andros Townsend was troubling Ashley Cole on the wing as the pressure built up on Chelsea.
The breakthrough came after 19 minutes when Eriksen advanced in from the left, he squared the ball for Roberto Soldado but instead of shooting, the Spanish striker set up the ball for Gylfi Sigurdson bursting into the area. He got through a tackle inside the area to beat Cech from 12 yards.
Spurs continued to press and looked certain to add a second minutes later when Townsend cut in from the right and freed Soldado who took the ball on and crossed towards Paulinho but somehow a defender got a touch to clear the ball for a corner.
Chelsea had a brief period of pressure, mainly from free-kicks which Spurs contested strongly and corners. Hugo Lloris came out to punch clear and held a low shot hit straight at him.
In the final minutes it appeared that Paulinho was going to get the second goal Spurs’ display deserved but having got behind the defence to power in a shot which beat Cech, the ball struck the outside of the post.
The second half was a totally different affair – Chelsea had Mata to orchestrate their play and they pressed Spurs much more quickly and further up the pitch, just as Spurs had done to them before the interval. It became a feisty affair with challenges flying in on both sides. A running battle between Torres and Vertonghen saw both players booked for different offences which would eventually lead to the striker’s dismissal.
Chelsea attempted to play the ball behind the Spurs back four but were frequently caught off-side. Lloris had to make a number of saves including denying Torres and later rushing out to dive at the feet of the Chelsea substitute as he broke through. Spurs had lost all their threat, their play having lost its intensity and cohesion, especially in midfield. As in the first half Chelsea threatened from set-pieces and midway through the half on 65 minutes John Terry got his head to a cross from a free-kick to beat Lloris for the equaliser.
As the heat of the battle increased, Torres was sent off for a challenge on Vertonghen giving Spurs a man advantage for the final ten minutes. Spurs took the initiative again as Chelsea dropped deep to deny then space. Spurs passed and passed but only created a couple of late chances when Sigurdsson curled a shot wide and Jermain Defoe who had replaced Soldado was played into the area but his shot lacked the power or direction to beat Cech who dived low to his left to save comfortably.
It was disappointing to drop two points at White Hart Lane but Spurs showed that they could play with the best, all they have to do is maintain those standards throughout the game.