Spurs snatch point in repeat battle

Premier League
Chelsea 2 Tottenham Hotspur 2

The Battle of the Bridge Mark Two ended in the same stalemate but equal rancour to the famous encounter between these two sides in May, 2016.

On that occasion, Spurs still had a mathematical chance of catching Leicester City in the race for the Premier League title.

Thirteen players were booked as Spurs self-destructed, conceding twice to throw away a two-goal lead.

This latest battle saw both managers - Thomas Tuchel and former Chelsea boss Antonio Conte - receive red cards in a post-match flare-up in what had been a bad-tempered match.

Spurs, who had won only once in their previous 37 matches at Stamford Bridge, had also failed to score in their previous six meetings.

But this is a different Spurs from the side of previous seasons with a manager for whom second best is not in his vocabulary.

But until the seventh minute of stoppage time, Spurs looked to be heading for another defeat - until Harry Kane headed home substitute Ivan Perisic’s corner. A goal born out of sheer determination, rather than reflecting the fact that Chelsea had dominated the match for long periods.

It had been a fiery encounter throughout with dubious tackles flying in from both sides and Tuchel afterwards complaining vehemently about the standard of Anthony Taylor’s refereeing.

Chelsea were by far the better side during the first half, with Spurs scarcely getting a look in.

N’Golo Kante and Jorginho gave a masterclass in midfield and the home side were first to every loose ball with Spurs giving Edouard Mendy little to worry about in the Chelsea goal.

Chelsea made their dominance pay after 18 minutes, Kalimdor Kalibaly driving in, entirely unmarked, following fellow home debutant Marc Cucurella’s corner.

Cucurella had been a constant threat down the left.

Seconds earlier, Raheem Sterling, also making his first appearance at Stamford Bridge in a Chelsea shirt, had backheeled beautifully for Kai Havertz whose shot flashed across goal and wide.

Spurs’ solitary chance came minutes later when Mendy, one-on-one with Ryan Sessegnon, outfoxed him to smother his effort.

It was surprising that Conte made no changes at half time, given the strong bench he had at his disposal.

By the 56th minute though, he had seen enough and brought on Richarlison for his debut at the expense of Sessegnon.

He immediately moved up front with Kane and Heung-Min Son to add firepower.

It was Chelsea though who almost doubled their lead when Sterling shot over from eight yards when he really should have found the target.

Kane’s first real opportunity of the afternoon came on 60 minutes when he dragged the ball wide of the onrushing Mendy and of the post.

It took until the 63rd minute for Spurs to win their first corner and minutes later they were level, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg finding the bottom corner with a low drive from outside the box.

Conte and Tuchel squared up to each other in the aftermath, the Chelsea coach furious about a Rodrigo Bentancur tackle on Havertz in the lead-up that he felt should have been punished.

Reece James whipped in a great cross from the right. Havertz ran in between Romero and Emerson, but shot wide when the crowd expected to see the net ripple.

Within two minutes Chelsea were ahead again, James beating Hugo Lloris after Sterling had slid the ball in to him.

The French goalkeeper looked as if he might possibly have dived too early. Spurs had brought on Yves Bissouma, Lucas Moura and Ivan Perisic in an effort to make an impact on a disciplined Chelsea defence.

In stoppage time, Eric Dier saw his header from a corner tipped over by Mendy, but then Kane levelled matters in the dying seconds.

Unlike the 2-2 draw six years ago, this was one with which Spurs will be thoroughly delighted.

Tuchel said after the match: “Both goals should not stand. Only one team deserved to win, that was us.

“I don’t know how many tactical fouls (Pierre-Emile) Hojbjerg and (Rodrigo) Bentancur did today.

“There was a clear foul on Kai Havertz and the situation goes on and on. Richarlison was offside and since when can we pull hair in a football match?

“They checked and nothing happened, absolutely ridiculous.”

Asked about his clash with Conte, he declared: “I thought when we shake hands you looked in each other eyes, he had a different opinion. It was not necessary but a lot of things were not necessary.”

Conte said: “Honestly the referee showed me a red card but he didn't understand the dynamic of what happened, but ok I have to accept, but I repeat it's not a big problem. The problem is between me and the other coach, not with the referee.

“It's not so important. The most important thing is football and to speak about football. It was an intensive game.

“This game was really tough for us. You know really well that to come here they are a really good team. If I compare last season and maybe three games without playing the superiority was clear.

“I have to be honest, today Chelsea showed to be better than us. We can do better. but at the same time we scored twice. In the last three games we didn't score.

“We got a point and we showed in my opinion character and personality and my players wanted to stay in the game until the end, but my players know what is my idea. We can do better.”

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