|Zola could not find a second
Richard Damerell reporting.
Resolute defending from Tottenham put a stumbling block in the
way of Chelsea's chase for a Champions League place as the Blues were
held to a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge.
Spurs fully deserved their share of the points as the visitors gave as
good as they got in a pulsating first half, and took the lead through
Chelsea could have even fallen further behind before
Gianfranco Zola leveled with a wickedly curling free-kick.
In the second half the hosts dominated matters but could not find a
way through the stubborn Tottenham rearguard.
Chelsea came into this game in red hot form which saw Shrewsbury and
Leeds both put to the sword in the last seven days by some
mouthwatering football from the Blues.
In contrast Tottenham have been displaying their customary
inconsistency, and Glen Hoddle's team fell foul to a late Jermaine
Jenas goal in midweek as they slumped to a 1-0 defeat against
The visitors looked to be suffering a hangover from this result, and
almost conceded a goal in the opening minutes. A Jesper Gronkjaer
cross found Gianfranco Zola in the box, and the little Italian hit a
low shot against Kasey Keller which spun dangerously towards goal
before Stephen Carr headed clear.
Tottenham were missing the injured Robbie Keane, and his replacement
Steffen Iversen should have done better when he headed a Darren Anderton
cross well wide.
Zola was soon displaying the slick skills that have tormented defences
all season. The diminutive forward left two defenders in his wake with
a shimmy before firing a searing shot wide.
Spurs were looking equally threatening going forward and should have
taken the lead just after the quarter hour mark when Simon Davies
spurned a great chance. The Welshman burst into the area, but could
only sent a weak shot into the legs of Carlo Cudicini and Sheringham wasted
Despair quickly turned to joy for Davies who played a telling role as
his side broke the deadlock. The tricky midfielder sent over a cross
which caused mayhem in the Chelsea box, and Anderton cut the ball back
for Sheringham to poke the ball into the net from two yards.
Boudewijn Zenden tested Keller with a stinging shot as Chelsea went in
search of a leveler minutes later.
With the action lurching from end to end Spurs could have extended
their lead when Gustavo Poyet forced Cudicini into an athletic stop
with a drive that looked destined for the net.
A save of similar class prevented Chelsea from equalising, but on this
occasion it came from the boot of a defender.
Keller parried a shot from Lampard , and Zenden cut the ball back to
Zola in the six yard box whose scuffed shot was heading goalwards
before Ledley King hacked it off the line.
Zola wasn't to be denied for long and the midfield magician conjured
up a jaw-dropping equaliser. From fully 30 yards out Zola curled a
free-kick into the top corner of the net that left Keller grasping
After the break Chelsea poured forward seeking to keep up the pressure
on the away side. John Terry quite literally tried to stamp his
authority on the game as he lunged dangerously into Keller while
chasing a through ball that he had not hope of catching.
Eidur Gudjohnsen made a more positive influence on the game when he
almost scored a second for Chelsea shortly afterwards. The Icelandic
striker slipped to the ground, but he still managed to head a shot
from Lampard just wide of the target.
Gudjohnsen was in the thick of the action again when he slid a shot
against the body of Kasey Keller from an acute angle.
Only wasteful finishing was preventing the home side from adding
another goal as Zola sent a volley wildly over the bar.
Shooting practice will no doubt be top of Claudio Ranieri's training
programme on Monday morning, as try as they might the hosts could not
The American stopper got down well to keep out another shot from
Gujohnsen and then smothered the ball behind the goal after Mario
Melchiot fired the rebound goalwards.
Keller's heroics might even have earnt Tottenham all three points as
substitute Matthew Etherington could have won the game for his team.
The former Peterborough player let fly with a fierce drive that was
almost too hot to handle for Cudicini, who grabbed the ball at the
If Spurs had scored it would have been deserved punishment
for Chelsea, who could yet stray from the path to the Champions league
if they continue throw away points in this manner.
Man of the Match: Ledley King (Tottenham Hotspur): a
rock at the back for Spurs, the centre-back was never troubled by the
Chelsea: Cudicini, Gallas, Desailly, Terry, Le Saux (Hasselbaink
72), Gronkjaer (Cole 87), Petit, Lampard, Zenden (Melchiot 45), Zola,
Subs Not Used: De Goey, Morris.
Tottenham: Keller, Carr, King, Gardner (Doherty 37), Taricco,
Anderton, Bunjevcevic, Poyet, Davies, Sheringham, Iversen (Etherington
Subs Not Used: Sullivan, Freund, Acimovic.
Ref: P Durkin (Dorset).