Spurs shatter Stamford Bridge curse as Dele Alli downs Chelsea
Tottenham set for another season in the Champions League after dazzling comeback
01 April, 2018 — By Dan Carrier at Stamford Bridge
FA Premier League
CHELSEA 1 (Morata, 30)
SPURS 3 (Eriksen, 45 Alli, 62, 66)
DELE Alli’s double strike lifted the curse of Stamford Bridge for Spurs this afternoon (Sunday) – and pushed his side a huge step closer to securing Champions League football next season.
The forward scored two second half goals in a five minute burst as Tottenham came from behind and registered their first win at their west London rivals home for 28 years.
And how Mauricio Pochettino’s team were worth it as they held firm when Chelsea had good spells, and looked capable of scoring themselves against last years champions whenever they attacked. After the game, Pochettino said he was pleased for the Spurs fans now the hoodoo had been buried – but what mattered most was getting another league victory on the board.
He said: “We are happy for our supporters, after 28 years, to win here again. But it is also only three points. There is still a long way to go until the end of the season. We now need to prepare for the next game – it is a tough the run in, so we must focus and work hard. We have achieved nothing yet.”
Pochettino singled out Alli for praise.
He added: “It was a tough period for Dele but I never have doubted his talent or character. He works hard and deserves this today. We have to remember he is only 21 years old. The expectation can be too much – but he is strong. He doesn’t need to show anything to us at Spurs. We trust and believe in him.”
For a match that was to hold plenty of drama – and for a London Derby that Chelsea had to win to close the gap in the race for the top four – it had a strangely subdued opening half hour. It felt like the international break had meant the players had lost a bit of rhythm. First touches went astray, passes were over or under hit, and tackles sloppy. Spurs lacked the focal point usually provided by Harry Kane with Heung-Min Son ploughing a lonely and ineffective furrow up front and it wasn’t immediately obvious which side had it within them to take the initiative.
Chelsea took the lead on 29 minutes, when a cross came over from the right and Alvaro Morata leapt highest. Hugo Lloris, who had made a couple of straight-forward saves up to that point, had come off his line to meet the ball but got his jump wrong. The cross seemed to strike Morata on the head, rather than him meeting it cleanly, and bounced in.
But this Spurs team has more steel and guts to previous outfits who have gone a goal down at the Bridge and folded. When they struck back, they did so in spectacular style on the stroke of half time. Some bite-and-hustle by Alli and Ben Davies saw Spurs regain possession deep in Chelsea territory, and when the ball came out to Christian Eriksen, he had a couple of yards to gather his thoughts, steady himself and then unleash a swerving, curling effort that left Willy Caballero with no chance. It was a moment of quality that Spurs fans will long cherish.
In the second period, both teams settled into playing a game of letting their opponents enjoy spells with the ball and defending in depth. But it was Pochettino’s players who found the extra gear and stepped it up mid way through the second half. A raking, delightful ball from the back by Jan Vertonghen saw Alli get away from his markers, bring the ball down with an exquisite first touch and then smash home to give Spurs the lead. Five minutes later, the England forward extended the advantage when Son broke down the right, saw his shot blocked and Alli managed to get to the rebound under the noses of four Chelsea defenders. He controlled gracefully and slotted home.
Chelsea did what they could to get back in it but did not have the quality to get past a solid rearguard action and Spurs even had chances to make it four as Chelsea looked increasingly ragged, out of ideas and unable to handle Tottenham’s aggression, movement and solidity.
Spurs have won the most London derbies this term, with a record that reads five victories, one draw and two defeats. It also puts them eight point ahead of Chelsea in fifth – and two points off Liverpool in third, with a game in hand.
CHELSEA: Caballero, Rudiger, Alonso (Emerson, 82) Fabregas, Kante, Morata (Hudson-Odoi, 87), Hazard, Moses (Giroud, 80) Willian, Chrstensen, Azpilicueta
Subs not used: Eduardo, Drinkwater, Bakayoko,, Cahill.
SPURS: Lloris, Trippier, Davies, Vertonghen, Sanchez, Son (Kane, 72) Lamela (Sissoko, 87) Dier (Wanyama, 80) Dembele, Alli, Eriksen.
Subs not used: Vorm, Rose, Aurier, Moura.