Chelsea 0 Tottenham 0: Advantage Redknapp in the race for Europe
22:11 GMT, 24 March 2012
In the end it was agonisingly close
for Tottenham. Emmanuel Adebayor was racing through on goal, Petr Cech
beaten, with 10 minutes to go. It seemed a done deal.
Tottenham's first win in the League
at Stamford Bridge since 1990 looked imminent, though that statistic
would have been considerably less significant than the eight-point gap
they might have put on Chelsea in the race for a Champions League spot.
And Adebayor must score: The Togo striker rounds Petr Cech
Chelsea: Cech, Bosingwa (Luiz 60), Cahill, Terry, Cole, Essien (Torres 75), Lampard, Ramires, Mata, Sturridge (Kalou 88), Drogba. Subs not used: Turnbull, Mikel, Malouda, Meireles.
Tottenham: Friedel, Walker, Kaboul, Gallas, Assou-Ekotto, Modric, Sandro (Livermore 76), Parker, Bale, Van der Vaart (Saha 76), Adebayor. Subs not used: Cudicini, Defoe, Kranjcar, Rose, Nelsen.
Booked: Assou-Ekotto, Sandro.
Referee: Martin Atkinson.
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'It was like watching an action
replay, waiting for him to get there and hopefully put the ball in,'
said Harry Redknapp, lamenting the chance later.
For, from somewhere, Gary Cahill appeared, racing back towards goal.
True, Adebayor slightly over-ran the
ball and by the time he shot, the angle was not ideal. Still, the
Chelsea defender's lunge and block was a fine piece of last-ditch
There was more.
From Luka Modric's corner, Gareth Bale rose unmarked to thunder a header against the bar.
Then, in the third minute of injury time, Bale's free-kick swerved and skidded in front of Louis Saha.
The faintest touch would have turned it in. As it was, even without a deflection, Cech had to dive to his left to turn it away.
Top defending: Gary Cahill thwarts Adebayor with a well-timed slide
And though Chelsea could point to a
Juan Mata free-kick that hit the post on 73 minutes, those final 10
minutes, when Tottenham dominated the game, were a fair reflection of
the momentum of these clubs' respective seasons.
Tottenham can take heart. They had stemmed the bleeding represented by three defeats and a draw before this game.
They remain fourth, five points clear of Chelsea in fifth and, for now, the last Champions League spot is in their possession.
Jump to it: The Spurs wall attempts to block Didier Drogba's free-kick
'It was an important point for us,'
said Redknapp. 'And the longer it went on, I thought we were getting at
them and I could see us winning it. I think they were probably more
happy to hear the whistle than us.'
For Chelsea, the future is more uncertain.
Cup glories still, potentially,
await but the League campaign is withering away. It threatens to be
their worst in 10 years, the last time they failed to make the Champions
League, which was before the Roman Abramovich era.
Spot the ball: Petr Cech watches as Emmanuel Adebayor's header sails over the bar
'It's going to be difficult (to
qualify for the Champions League) but from the day I was appointed we
always knew it was going to be a difficult task,' said Roberto Di
'But there are still eight games to play. Of course, fourth spot is very important for our club.'
Danger: Cech and Ashley Cole comine to keep out Rafael van der Vaart's effort
Di Matteo's task is to prove that the
energy and fight the club showed of late, most notably against Napoli,
were something more than impetus provided by a change.
For on Saturday they looked laborious. 'In the first half we were a little bit too slow with possession,' said Di Matteo.
Safety first: Cech tips over
The Spurs fans were briefly
celebrating in the 57th minute when they saw Walker ripple the
sidenetting after Gareth Bale jinked past two challenges and found the
full-back with a delightful reverse pass.
Adebayor then fell over shaping to
hit Bale's cross first time before Di Matteo made his first move,
sending on David Luiz at right-back for Jose Bosingwa.
Battle: Ashley Cole and Gareth Bale fight for possession
'We didn't move the ball quick enough to get into dangerous positions.'
In the second half, they were worse.
In a tedious opening half-hour, neither team looked especially impressive.
It was 28 minutes before anything of
note, when William Gallas blocked Frank Lampard in the box, causing him
to fall. Referee Martin Atkinson generously ignored it.
Have a nice trip: Frank Lampard is sent to the ground by William Gallas's challenge
A spectacular if fruitless 80-yard
run by Adebayor, which ended in him wasting a cross for Kyle Walker, was
the highlight until Tottenham went close to taking the lead on the
stroke half time.
Bale played in Modric, who
accelerated past Michael Essien and crossed for Rafael van der Vaart,
whose shot at Cech was parried away.
Doubling up: Ramires skips between Luka Modric and Scott Parker
Van der Vaart was quickest to react,
shooting again, only for Ashley Cole to clear off the line. Adebayor
stretched to head the rebound but he directed the chance over.
Chelsea's chances were few and far
between. Benoit Assou-Ekotto's challenge in the area on Ramires on 63
minutes looked clumsy and Di Matteo was off his bench demanding a
Blinded by the light: Harry Redknapp's side are now winless in five games
'There will be a lot of twists and turns, you know,' said Redknapp. 'Even Arsenal still have some tough games. It's all to play for.'
None of which you could dispute.