Tottenham Hotspur 0
Juan Mata and Gareth Bale both struck the woodwork for Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur respectively as the North London side secured a pivotal point in the race for a top four finish.
Spurs had the better of the clear-cut chances and came close to nicking the share of the spoils at the very end.
Manager Harry Redknapp made three changes from the side that drew 1-1 with Stoke City on Wednesday night with William Gallas, Sandro and Emmanuel Adebayor all coming in for Ledley King, Niko Kranjcar and Louis Saha for the early encounter at Stamford Bridge.
The Blues looked to make home advantage count and came close to carving open the first clear-cut opportunity in the first five minutes after Mata looked to free Frank Lampard. The ball evaded the England midfielder and fell to Didier Drogba who was closed down quickly by captain Scott Parker and failed to make the most of the chance presented to him.
The powerful Ivorian was muscling his way through the Spurs backline and perhaps should’ve done better after chesting a long ball in the away side’s box, but his effort was comfortably gathered by Brad Friedel.
The American was on-hand to deny Mata following good work by Drogba as the beating sun saw opportunities at a minimum early on.
Chelsea could have had a penalty on the half hour after Lampard fell under a Gallas challenge while Bale smashed over the bar from distance.
After soaking up some pressure from the Blues, Adebayor looked to embark on a rare Spurs counter and after some good from the Togolese front-man down the left flank; he looked to pick out the unmarked Kyle Walker, but lofted his cross to high for the right-back.
Ashley Cole found worked his way into the Spurs box only for Rafael Van der Vaart to lunge and block his attempted cross before the Dutchman saw, arguably, the best chances of the half denied on the stroke of half-time, firstly, by some good goalkeeping by Petr Cech and his rebound was cleared off the line by Cole following some excellent work by Luka Modric.
Walker came within inches of opening the scoring following some good work by Bale, but an excellent save by Cech saw his effort tipped round the near post.
Chelsea had their second penalty shout of the afternoon turned down by referee Martin Atkinson after Ramires claimed to be manhandled by birthday boy Benoit Assou-Ekotto.
The host’s best chance of the game fell to Mata after they won a free-kick around the 20-yard mark and after lofting the ball over the wall, struck the base of the post with Friedel rooted to the spot. Substitute David Luiz attempted to turn the follow-up past the American but fired over with Drogba ready to unleash a goal-bound effort.
Gallas looked to turn in a header from a Bale free-kick and just minutes later, Adebayor did brilliantly to break the offside trap. He rounded Cech and looked to slot into an empty net only for Gary Cahill to recover and clear superbly.
Bale then crashed his header against the crossbar from the ensuing corner as the clocked edged towards the 90 minute mark.
The Welshman came close to breaking the deadlock in the fifth minute of added time but Cech was on-hand to turn his effort around the post while the following corner was cleared as Atkinson blew for full-time.
What Redknapp had to say
“It is a big point for us, keeps them five points off us,” he told Sky Sports HD1 after the game.
“Now we have a got a decent enough run-in, lots of dangerous teams.”
“I thought we were excellent today.
“We kept the ball well, we did everything we had to do today, defended well and we had some great chances and their keeper made a couple of great saves.
“It is never easy to come to Chelsea but I thought we edged it.
“I just felt when we picked it up, every time we broke or on the counter we looked dangerous.
“We went with three midfielders as we didn’t want to get outnumbered and we gave the forwards licence and I thought they did damage, and I think it suits us. The midfield get more of the ball and they can dominate.”
Man of the match
Kyle Walker did brilliantly both defensively and on the offense as Tottenham Hotspur looked to keep a five point cushion between themselves and Chelsea. Came close to scoring on two separate occasions while doing well to keep Daniel Sturridge’s input at a minimum.
Moment of the match
The full-time whistle saw many Spurs fans breathe a huge sigh of relief in what could be a vital point in the race for a top four finish.
A much improved performance against a team Spurs haven’t beaten at Stamford Bridge since 1990. The previous four games have seen Harry Redknapp’s side take a major dip in form, but the draw in West London kept the cushion between fourth and fifth at five points. Now is the time for the team to draw on the positives from the point and push on with just eight games left to play.