Chelsea boost top four hopes with Tottenham win

London, Feb 22 (Agencies) | Publish Date: 2/22/2020 10:37:12 AM IST

Chelsea boss Frank Lampard masterminded a crucial 2-1 win over Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham, as recalled pair Olivier Giroud and Marcos Alonso fired the Blues to a victory which strengthens their hold on fourth place.

In his pre-match press conference, Mourinho had claimed he had been told Chelsea were switching to a back five for the fixture, and while that was proved correct, Spurs were unable to prevent Giroud (15) from scoring his first Premier League goal of the season or Alonso (48) capping a move which involved all four line-up changes made by Lampard.

While Spurs pulled one back late on when Erik Lamela’s effort was deflected in by Antonio Rudiger (89), it could have been worse for the visitors had Giovani Lo Celso not been controversially let off by a VAR check when he appeared to stamp on Cesar Azpilicueta. Officials at Stockley Park later announced ‘human error’ had caused them not to send off the midfielder.

Lampard’s win over his former Chelsea manager Mourinho gives the Blues a four-point cushion over their London rivals and extends Tottenham’s dismal run at Stamford Bridge to one win in 34 trips.

Chelsea had gone four without a win in the league before Saturday but Giroud repaid Lampard’s trust in him by scoring on his first start since November on 15 minutes, blasting in at the near post after Ross Barkley had bounced the rebound from the Frenchman’s initial saved shot against the post. 

After a delay for a VAR offside check, Lampard pumped his fist in celebration at his striker’s first Premier League goal since April and another rare starter, Alonso, almost joined Giroud on the scoresheet when he chested the ball up and volleyed a right-footed shot narrowly over the bar from distance as Chelsea stepped up the pressure. 

Spurs had chances to get back level just before the break, with Lucas Moura’s shot deflected over the bar by Azpilicueta and Davinson Sanchez forcing Willy Caballero to tip over from the resulting corner before Japhet Tanganga almost latched on to a long ball forward which had the Blues keeper back-tracking.

But it was the home side who finished the half on top, with Barkley shooting into the side-netting and they made it 2-0 three minutes after the restart when the four players Lampard brought into his XI combined. Mason Mount sent Giroud’s flick-on to Barkley who squared for Alonso to fire his low shot past Hugo Lloris on his first league start since December.

Barkley then forced the Spurs keeper to push his shot from wide over the bar before Lo Celso escaped punishment for a nasty-looking challenge on Azpilicueta which left the Chelsea man with stud marks on his shin. With around 10 minutes left to play, officials confirmed Lo Celso should have seen red.

There were more debatable decisions to follow, as Tottenham had penalty appeals waved away when Tanguy Ndombele collided with Reece James and Harry Winks went down under Rudiger’s challenge, while Chelsea could easily have made it three, with sub Tammy Abraham denied by a fine save by Lloris and Alonso hitting the bar with a free-kick.

Spurs pulled one back when sub Lamela’s low strike went in off Rudiger’s heel to set up a tense finale, but the hosts saw out the game to secure just their sixth Premier League home win of the season - and land a big blow in the race for the top-four.

Chelsea are in Champions League action on Tuesday when they host Bayern Munich at Stamford Bridge in the first leg of their round of 16 tie.

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