Zola Leveller Fails To Inspire Blues  (Sky Sports)

Chelsea 1 Tottenham Hotspur 1

Gianfranco Zola 
Zola could not find a second goal
Chelsea   1-1  Tottenham 
Zola 40    Sheringham 18 
Barclaycard Premiership, February 1, 

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 Teddy Sheringham.

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 Newcastle.

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 the rebound.

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 thin air.

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 beat Keller.

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 second attempt.

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 forwards. 

: Cudicini, Gallas, Desailly, Terry, Le Saux (Hasselbaink 72), Gronkjaer (Cole 87), Petit, Lampard, Zenden (Melchiot 45), Zola, Gudjohnsen.
Subs Not Used: De Goey, Morris.
Booked: Petit.

: Keller, Carr, King, Gardner (Doherty 37), Taricco, Anderton, Bunjevcevic, Poyet, Davies, Sheringham, Iversen (Etherington 79).
Subs Not Used: Sullivan, Freund, Acimovic.
Booked: Taricco.

Att: 41,384
Ref: P Durkin (Dorset).

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