Dele Alli and Spurs silence critics and have final laugh on April Fools’ Day by ending 28-year wait for away win at Chelsea
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Premier League: Chelsea 1 Tottenham Hotspur 3
A brace from Dele Alli helped silence his own critics and Tottenham Hotspur’s with a memorable 3-1 win at Chelsea this afternoon to end the club’s barren run at Stamford Bridge.
Not since February 1990 had Spurs claimed a victory at the home of the Blues and it looked like it would be extended when Alvaro Morata scored in the 30th minute.
A wonder hit from Christian Eriksen on the stroke of half time helped turned the game back in favour of Mauricio Pochettino’s side though, before Alli took centre stage.
The England international scored twice inside a four-minute second half spell to provide the perfect answer to some of comments this week regarding his form and pile more misery on Antonio Conte’s team.
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With seven fixtures left in this season’s Premier League, Tottenham are fourth in the table and eight points ahead of Chelsea in the battle for a Champions League place.
Harry Kane was fit enough to be part of the Spurs matchday squad, but had to settle for a place on the bench.
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Pochettino picked the team many predicted with Heung-min Son up front, but Toby Alderweireld wasn’t even among the substitutes which only added to the continued rumblings regarding his future at Tottenham.
Chelsea were without Thibaut Courtois due to injury and so Willy Caballero lined up between the posts.
There was a lot riding on this match with Spurs ahead of the Blues by five points and it reflected the hostile atmosphere building ahead of kick-off.
Any rivalries were put to one side when the stadium announcer paid tribute to Ray Wilkins before the game with the Chelsea legend currently in hospital in a critical condition after a heart attack.
The two teams entered the pitch afterwards with the home crowd declaring their hate for the Lilywhites.
It was to be expected and after losing their heads during the infamous ‘Battle of the Bridge’ in May 2016, Tottenham had to show an improved level of maturity for this contest to have the last laugh on April Fools’ Day.
Chelsea got proceedings underway with the noise electric from both sets of fans with a lot at stake.
A delay occurred after only five minutes when Victor Moses needed treatment, but he was able to resume and the game resumed with the pace frantic.
Three minutes later and Spurs won their first corner of the match, but it came to nothing and 60 seconds after Conte’s men threatened through Willian, but Davinson Sanchez blocked well.
Chances were beginning to be created now and Alli should have done a lot better in the 10th minute when Eriksen picked him out with a superb drilled cross, but the England man headed wide under pressure from Moses.
Tottenham had settled the quicker of the two teams, but Chelsea were looking a threat on the counter and Morata should have done better in the 16th minute when Eden Hazard flicked into his path, but his cross was poor and Kieran Trippier cleared.
It was the start of a good spell for the hosts though and two minutes later they pushed forward again with Hazard running across the area and teeing up Willian, but his shot was tipped away from goal by Hugo Lloris.
Chelsea kept possession of the ball and though they had taken the lead when Kante’s cross found Marcos Alonso and he volleyed home.
But with the home crowd on their feet, the linesmen’s offside flag ruled the goal out and it remained goalless with 19 played.
Another genuine opportunity was created nine minutes later when Cesc Fabregas found Hazard and he ran at the Spurs back four before passing out to Moses on the right, but his effort was blocked by Ben Davies and Lloris saved the shot.
It should have been a warning sign for Tottenham as Moses was getting too much space on the right, but they failed to heed the warning.
With half an hour played, Antonio Rudiger passed out to the unmarked Moses and he crossed in for Morata to head into the empty net after Lloris came and failed to collect the cross.
It was a poor goal for Tottenham to concede, but Chelsea weren’t complaining, though Conte’s celebrations were reserved on the touchline.
Two minutes later and Spurs threatened to produce an equaliser as Alli’s through ball was deflected into Eriksen’s path, but Caballero came out well and cleared.
The former Manchester City goalkeeper took a whack for his troubles, however, and needed treatment before he could continue.
Pochettino’s men continued to push for a way back into the game, but their final third play was lacking quality and Chelsea were getting plenty of people behind the ball.
Spurs had a rare shot on target five minutes before half time when Eriksen checked back and let fly from 30-yards, but Caballero saved after initially spilling the effort.
While Tottenham were now on top, the Blues were always a threat on the counter and nearly made it 2-0 with 42 played.
Alonso’s first cross was cleared back to him and so he fired towards goal with the rebound and forced Lloris into a good save.
Morata looked set to get onto the loose ball, but Jan Vertonghen did extremely well to get his foot to the ball first and clear the danger.
Chelsea continued to look a real threat when in possession and Alonso should have done better in the 44th minute when Hazard knocked the ball into the Spaniard’s path, he decided to cross rather than shoot and saw his centre cleared.
It only went as far as Kante though and his thunderbolt of a strike back into the area was blocked by Sanchez.
Just as two minutes of stoppage time was added on, Tottenham attacked again, but Eric Dier’s cross was overhit and was heading out for a throw.
Alli chased the lost cause and kept the ball in play, although Moses collected, he tried an ambitious chipped pass and Davies headed the ball back to Alli and he passed into Eriksen’s path.
The Dane looked up and after trying a long-range effort minutes earlier, tried his luck again and produced a corker of an effort.
Eriksen’s shot swerved and dipped up and over Caballero before nestling into the net much to the delight of the travelling Spurs fans.
After lacking quality in the final third for much of the half, they found themselves level on the stroke of half time.
Chelsea very nearly went back in front straight from the kick-off, however, when Hazard got through and teed up Alonso.
The wing-back blazed high and wide though, and the full time whistle followed soon after to bring a breathtaking first 45 to an end.
Despite conceding on the stroke of half time, Chelsea made the brighter start after the restart, so Pochettino moved Son out to the right – a switch which saw Lamela come into a more central role.
It almost immediately paid dividends as Trippier’s cross was sliced by Moses and as he landed he fell on the ball. It nearly dropped for Lamela, but the hosts were able to clear and the danger in the 53rd minute was gone.
Two corners in quick succession added to the general feeling Tottenham were getting on top, but with the Chelsea fans unhappy at a lack of pressing from their team, the home side increased their tempo again.
A short corner from the Blues gave Fabregas time to pick his shot and his cross found Andreas Christiensen, but he flicked wide in the 59th minute.
Spurs responded well though on the hour mark as Mousa Dembele passed into Alli and he set up Son, but his curling effort was superbly saved by Caballero.
The momentum appeared to be changing again and in the 62nd minute a third goal of the game occurred and it went to the visitors.
Alli pealed off his marker and Dier spotted his run and produced a wonderful pass for the ex-MK Dons midfielder.
There was still a lot for Alli to do, but he brought the ball down majestically before curling past Caballero and in via the post to put Tottenham in front.
He wheeled off to celebrate, cupping his ear to the Chelsea fans who had booed and sang expletives about him during the match.
Conte’s men did look to get back on level terms immediately and a Hazard cross was cleared before Willian struck wide after another short corner in the 64th minute.
Just as the Blues were aiming to pin Spurs back, Pochettino’s team produced a classy counter-attack and it proved crucial.
Eriksen played a wonderful first time pass into Son’s path and the South Korean cut across the chasing Alonso and saw his first effort saved by Caballero.
Son grabbed the rebound and tested the Chelsea stopper again. It seemed the chance had gone for Tottenham, but Alli opened his body and squeezed the ball in to grab his second of the game and 12th of the season in the 66th minute.
During a week where a lot had been made of the 21-year-old’s form, bizarrely so given his obviously improvement since November, he had silenced his critics once again.
Chelsea, with a two-goal advantage to overcome, tried to find a response, but Fabregas fired off target from a good position with 69 on the clock.
The Blues continued to press, but Sanchez appeared to be on the end of every cross which entered the Spurs penalty area.
Pochettino then made his first substitution of the game in the 74th minute and it wasn’t a bad one with Kane introduced for Son.
In the first half it was Tottenham lacking quality in the final third and now it was the home side as Hazard did brilliantly to control, but passed to his left where there was no one there.
Both sides made changes as the game entered its latter stages with Dier and Lamela making way for Victor Wanyama and Moussa Sissoko.
Chelsea, meanwhile, introduced Emerson and Callum Hudson-Odoi with Alonso and Morata making way in a sign from Conte that perhaps he had already accepted defeat.
The Blues continued to push for a way back into the contest, but with the home fans leaving early, the long wait for a Tottenham win at Stamford Bridge edged closer.
Four minutes of stoppage time were added on at the end of the 90 and they went by without much to note before referee Andre Marriner signalled for full time.
It was a memorable victory for Spurs and ended their 28-year wait for a victory away to Chelsea.
The win also moved them eight points clear of the Blues in the battle for a top-four finish with only seven fixtures left to play in this season’s Premier League.
Both clubs remain in the FA Cup and if they are to meet in the final on May 19 the Lilywhites may now have the upperhand.
Next up for Tottenham is an away clash at Stoke City and they will go there with a huge amount of belief after silencing a lot of critics with this result.
Chelsea: Caballero; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Rudiger; Moses (Giroud 82), Kante, Fabregas, Alonso (Emerson 83); Willian, Hazard; Morata (Hudson-Odoi 88)
Unused substitutes: Eduardo; Cahill, Drinkwater, Bakayoko.
Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris; Trippier, Sanchez, Vertonghen, Davies; Dier (Wanyama 81), Dembele; Lamela (Sissoko 88), Eriksen, Alli; Son (Kane 74).
Unused substitutes: Vorm, Rose, Aurier, Moura.