Carvalho Earns His Spurs  (Sky Sports)

Chelsea 1 Tottenham Hotspur 0

Didier Drogba in action against the SpursDespite being more mediocre than magnificent, champions Chelsea kept alive their aspirations of a third successive title courtesy of a Ricardo Carvalho goal that put a halt to Tottenham's five-match winning run and in turn extended their own to eight.

At this stage of the season it is points not platitudes that are required and while the manner of their victory was far from exhilarating, Jose Mourinho and his side will care not one iota that they needed a speculative strike from a defender to beat a Tottenham side heavy legged from their excursion to Seville.

Prior to kick-off and several supporters raised concerns at having spotted smoke, only to be reassured that it was being emitted from Sir Alex Ferguson having seen Tottenham's team sheet.

Shorn from the side that had won its last five Premiership games were the likes of Dimitar Berbatov, Robbie Keane and Aaron Lennon and while Tottenham will claim European exertions in midweek made changes a necessity, their justification will likely fall on the deafest of ears in Manchester.

Somewhat predictably then it was the home side that dominated possession, pushing the ball around neatly but as against Valencia on Wednesday, there was neither thrust or fluidity in the final third as Spurs defended with discipline and no little endeavour.

When in the opening minute Shaun Wright-Phillips skinned an out-of-position Pascal Chimbonda like a ripened banana, it looked as if Spurs were ready to slip up, but his cross narrowly evaded Didier Drogba and just as it did for the remainder of the half, danger passed.

Having garnered his manager's faith of late, Wright-Phillips is beginning to hint at the form he once showed at Manchester City and it was the diminutive wide man that conjured the next chance of note too, as Saloman Kalou lent back and struck over after John Terry had kept alive a raking cross to the far post.

If opportunities were sparse for Chelsea at the other end they were practically non-existent, with Carvalho's expertly timed penalty area challenge on Steed Malbranque curtailing an isolated moment of consternation. Such was Chelsea's dominance Carvalho was offered opportunity to foray forward and it was from the Portuguese's cut inside and drive from the angle that Paul Robinson was able to earn his own spurs with a smart low save.

Just moments earlier, as the half drew to its close, in-form Michael Dawson helped enhance a growing reputation with an excellent block that prevented Frank Lampard's shot into the floor from asking questions of an unsighted Robinson.

The line between success and failure is a thin one and never was it more so in evidence than in the opening exchanges after the interval. A peripheral and what looked to be an out-of-shape Mido should have converted rather allow Petr Cech to tip over his free header from seven yards, after Hossam Ghaly had nodded in to his path, before Carvalho stepped from the back in the 52nd minute to keep the title race alive.

There seemed little danger when Carvalho received possession just inside Tottenham's half but given acres to move into, he unleashed a speculative strike that covered neither Ricardo Rocha, who ducked, nor Robinson, cumbersome in getting down, in glory.

Just moments later and Robinson was given opportunity to at least partially atone in stretching every last sinew to thwart Kalou with his feet from close range, as Drogba was next to be left incredulous, as his mazy run and jackhammer of a strike was repelled with a solid parry.

Having seen enough Martin Jol summoned from the bench both Berbatov and Abdel Taarabt, with the young Frenchman adding urgency previously absent in drawing an important save from Cech with a stinging drive from the edge of the box.

Cech, who has not now conceded in 14 hours of Premiership football, proved just how integral he is to Chelsea's success as he produced the game's best save, with Berbatov's header pushed over after the classy Bulgarian had out-muscled John Terry.

Manchester United, albeit perhaps temporarily, are just a win away and with the champions grinding out results without playing well, the title race could well now go to the wire.


Team Statistics

Tottenham Hotspur





Shots on Target



Shots off Target



Blocked Shots












Yellow Cards



Red Cards






Chelsea Cech, Bridge, Carvalho, Ferreira, Terry, Lampard, Makelele, Mikel (J. Cole), Wright-Phillips (Ballack 71), Drogba, Kalou (Shevchenko 74)
Subs Not Used  Hilario, Diarra
Booked Drogba, Cole
Goals Carvalho 52

Tottenham Hotspur Robinson, Chimbonda, Dawson, Rocha, Stalteri, Ghaly, Jenas (Zokora 81), Malbranque, Tainio Taarabt 64), Defoe, Mido (Berbatov 69)
Subs Not Used Cerny, Ifil
Booked Ghaly

Attendance 41,864

Referee R. Styles

The Soccerlinks Hit List