Tottenham Hotspur 0-2 Chelsea
A FIRST-HALF BRACE from Willian condemned off-colour Tottenham Hotspur to their first home Premier League defeat under Jose Mourinho – Spurs miserable evening compounded by the second-half dismissal of Heung-Min Son in what was an ill-tempered encounter in N17.
Much of the pre-match talk centred around Mourinho facing Chelsea for the first time since taking the reins at their bitter rivals. And despite lifting three league titles during a stellar first spell at Stamford Bridge, the Portuguese chief insisted he was completely focused on bringing success to the North Londoners and was perfectly happy in his new environment.
“I’m Tottenham – one hundred per cent,” Mourinho enthused.
“The same way I gave everything to make Chelsea supporters smile and be happy, that’s the same desire I have for Tottenham fans, to make them smile and be happy.
“I want to try on Sunday, together with my boys and with the help of an amazing stadium.”
Certainly, London’s newest footballing venue was rocking come kick-off, although rivalry was briefly forgotten as the two sets of supporters showed their collective respect for the late Martin Peters – a legendary figure at Spurs and West Ham, as well as a goalscoring World Cup winner with England in 1966.
Frank Lampard had endured his most difficult period since taking charge of the Blues – but it was his side who struck first, Willian arrowing an angled, right-footed strike beyond Paulo Gazzaniga following a well-drilled short corner routine with Mateo Kovacic.
Chelsea were busy and bright, with Willian and Mason Mount pulling the strings and generally controlling proceedings while those around them harried and hassled, leaving Tottenham frustrated.
Harry Kane and Son sent decent chances over as the flustered home side rallied, albeit tentatively. Meanwhile, Moussa Sissoko and Kepa required treatment after a heavy collision following Tottenham’s most fluent move of the half.
Tempers boiled over shortly before the interval – Dele and Mateo Kovacic cautioned by referee, Anthony Taylor. The pair coming together as Chelsea looked to break from deep.
But before the interval, Chelsea were handed an opportunity to double their advantage. Gazzaniga clattered into Marcus Alonso and following a lengthy VAR check, Willian sent the beleaguered Argentine the wrong way from the resulting spot-kick.
Mourinho replaced Eric Dier with Christian Eriksen in a bid to retrieve the situation. However, Tottenham continued to appear jaded and off the pace.
An assistants flag denied Tammy Abraham a third for the Blues – the England man picking up the pieces after Gazzaniga had spilt Alonso’s fierce strike. But Tottenham’s afternoon went from bad to worse when another VAR check saw Son shown a red card after appearing to kick out at Antonio Rudiger – although the Chelsea man’s reaction was at best, theatrical.
N’Golo Kante fizzed over, while Michy Batchuayi was agonisingly close as some football broke out amidst the madness. But as a contest, this was long-since done as efficient Chelsea decorated their position on the pre-Christmas Premier League tree.
Spurs return to Premier League action on Thursday, December 26 when Brighton & Hove Albion are the visitors to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium (12:30pm).
Tottenham Hotspur: Paulo Gazzaniga, Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen (Danny Rose 74’), Davinson Sanchez, Heung-Min Son, Harry Kane (Capt), Eric Dier (Christian Eriksen 46’), Moussa Sissoko, Dele Alli, Serge Aurier, Lucas Moura (Tanguy Ndombele 74’) Subs not used: Michel Vorm (GK), Harry Winks, Giovani Lo Celso, Juan Foyth
Booked: Dele Alli (foul), Paulo Gazzaniga (foul), Moussa Sissoko (foul), Toby Alderweireld (foul)
Sent-off: Heung-Min Son (violent conduct)
Chelsea: Kepa Arrizabalaga, Antonio Rudiger, Marcos Alonso, N’Golo Kante, Tammy Abraham (Michy Batshuayi 80’), Willian, Kurt Zouma, Mateo Kovacic (Jorginho 68’), Mason Mount, Cesar Azpilicueta (Capt) (Reece James 80’), Fikayo Tomori Subs not used: Willy Caballero (GK), Andreas Christensen, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Christian Pulisic
Booked: Kurt Zouma (dissent), Mateo Kovacic (foul), Antonio Rudiger (foul)
Goals: Willian 13’, 45+1’ (penalty)
Referee: Anthony Taylor
Assistants: Gary Beswick and Adam Nunn
Fourth Official: Andre Marriner
Reaction to follow…