Chelsea 0 Tottenham 0: Gunners tickled pink as London rivals settle for a point
15:09 GMT, 24 March 2012
Tottenham took a crucial step towards beating Chelsea to a top-four finish in the Barclays Premier League with a more-than-deserved draw in today's London derby at Stamford Bridge.
Spurs produced arguably their most disciplined away performance of the season to stay five points clear of the fifth-placed Blues, who now face an uphill battle to qualify for next season's Champions League.
It could have been even worse for Chelsea, with Rafael van der Vaart and Emmanuel Adebayor both missing virtual open goals as Tottenham enjoyed the better chances.
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.
The draw extended Spurs' winless run
to five matches but this was arguably their most crucial point of their
entire season on a ground where they had not tasted victory for more
than 22 years.
Roberto Di Matteo's Chelsea rescue
act, meanwhile, was suddenly in danger of looking futile, with English
football's last remaining European representatives now maybe needing to
win the Champions League to qualify for the the competition for a 10th
They might have been ahead inside
five minutes today had Didier Drogba – recalled in place of Fernando
Torres – and Frank Lampard not got in each other's way.
Chelsea were marginally the better
side but both teams almost seemed too scared to lose, with each
goalkeeper a virtual spectator during the opening quarter.
Top defending: Gary Cahill thwarts Adebayor with a well-timed slide
Referee Martin Atkinson waved away
muted appeals for a penalty in the 28th minute when Lampard ran into
William Gallas' trailing leg after Juan Mata's delightful ball in
Chelsea were starting to make inroads
and Kyle Walker was lucky a miscued clearance fell just behind Drogba,
who was unable to re-adjust.
Jump to it: The Spurs wall attempts to block Didier Drogba's free-kick
But Tottenham were a threat on the
break and Adebayor wasted a great chance to cross for Walker after
skinning Ramires down the left.
There was a brief hiatus when Drogba
went down clutching his left knee in apparent agony but was able to
continue after some touchline treatment.
Spot the ball: Petr Cech watches as Emmanuel Adebayor's header sails over the bar
The half looked destined to end
goalless when Van der Vaart missed a glorious double-chance in
stoppage-time, firing Luka Modric's deflected cross straight at Petr
Cech and seeing his rebound effort blocked on the line by Ashley Cole.
The danger was still not cleared and Adebayor nodded over at the third attempt.
Danger: Cech and Ashley Cole comine to keep out Rafael van der Vaart's effort
There was a more purposeful start to
the second half from both sides but Michael Essien overstepped the mark
by tripping Modric and was rightly booked.
Drogba then produced some classic
centre-forward play to roll Gallas and set up the onrushing Daniel
Sturridge for a half-volley the forward screwed well wide.
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
Ramires was furious to be denied a
penalty after a coming together with Benoit Assou-Ekotto while
challenging for Sturridge's cross.
Assou-Ekotto, Mata and Ramires were
then all hurt during a skirmish on the right touchline, which saw the
former booked for kicking the latter's foot.
Have a nice trip: Frank Lampard is sent to the ground by William Gallas's challenge
Sandro quickly followed for a clumsy
tackle on Essien but Van der Vaart escaped with a lecture after reacting
furiously to a free-kick awarded for a foul on the same player.
Another controversial Chelsea
free-kick saw them go within a post's width of taking the lead 17
minutes from time, Mata whipping the ball against the upright, with the
rebound evading both Drogba and Luiz.
Doubling up: Ramires skips between Luka Modric and Scott Parker
Time was running out for the home
side and Di Matteo responded by throwing on Torres for Essien, with
Spurs boss Harry Redknapp withdrawing Van der Vaart and Sandro for Louis
Saha and Jake Livermore.
That came as Modric stood over a free-kick, which Gallas somehow headed over from six yards.
Drogba then sent a weak effort straight at Brad Friedel before Adebayor missed another gilt-edged chance for the visitors.
Blinded by the light: Harry Redknapp's side are now winless in five games
The striker beat the offside trap to
collect Modric's pass and round Cech but gave Gary Cahill a chance to
recover and block his finish behind.
The striker nodded over another
rebound after Bale hit the bar with the resultant corner, with Tottenham
starting to look the more likely winners.
Lampard stung the palms of Friedel
with a dipping volley before Di Matteo played his final card by
withdrawing Sturridge for Salomon Kalou but Modric's free-kick almost
snatched it for Spurs.