Belfast Telegraph

Friday 25 July 2014

Chelsea and Spurs record stalemate

John Terry (left) and Rafael van der Vaart

Tottenham took a crucial step towards beating Chelsea to a top-four finish in the Barclays Premier League with a more-than-deserved 0-0 draw in the 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.

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.

Chelsea were starting to make inroads and Kyle Walker was lucky a miscued clearance fell just behind Didier Drogba, who was unable to re-adjust. But Tottenham were a threat on the break and Adebayor wasted a great chance to cross for Walker after skinning Ramires down the left.

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.

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.

A controversial Chelsea free-kick saw them go within a post's width of taking the lead 17 minutes from time, Juan Mata whipping the ball against the upright, with the rebound evading both Drogba and David Luiz. Modric stood over a free-kick for Spurs, which William 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. 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.

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