Tottenham Hotspur 2 Chelsea 1: match report
Two down, one to go. Having beaten Arsenal in midweek, Tottenham threatened Chelsea's advances on the Premier League crown with another remarkable performance. Back in Manchester, Sir Alex Ferguson must have experienced mixed feelings; the joy of seeing Chelsea falter will be tempered by the knowledge that Manchester United's next test is against North London's prize scalp hunters. This thoroughly deserved victory, earned by an early penalty from Jermain Defoe and a second goal in four days from Gareth Bale at the end of the first half, not only denied Chelsea the chance to re-open the gap to four points but, deliciously, opens the title race to a third party again. Arsenal, having thrown the towel in here on Wednesday, can move to within three points of leaders United with a win at Wigan on Sunday. Related ArticlesHarry Redknapp revels in his role as kingmakerCarlo Ancelotti must hold his nerve in title racePremier League tablePremier League actionPremier League fixturesFootball League ups and downsAnd for Chelsea this was a game in which anything that could go wrong did just that. Captain John Terry, who conceded the early penalty, was sent off in the 67th minute, for the second of two yellow cards and will miss the visit next Sunday, of Stoke. While Chelsea and United are now separated by one point with nine to play for, Spurs are back into fourth with a game in hand and with Champions League football looking more likely with each shock. Indeed, there is a new confidence about Tottenham and, as the sun began to set in North London, so they proved that a new dawn is coming to the Lane. With the game still in its infancy Spurs pushed forward and after Roman Pavlyuchenko had a shot blocked, Defoe appeared to have his arm pulled by Terry just outside the area but referee Phil Dowd played on. Dowd refused to be convinced that when Bale fell under John Obi Mikel's challenge but had no doubts when, in the 15th minute, Terry handled Pavlyuchenko's cross. For those who had witnessed Terry escape a similar penalty claim against Bolton in midweek, justice was seen to be done. Spurs have had a problem from the penalty spot, with Defoe missibng six of his previous 10 attempts, yet he struck this one perfectly and Spurs were on course for another famous scalp. Pavlyuchenko and David Bentley both went close as Chelsea became swamped in midfield and they were forced to make a change in the 33rd minute when Michael Ballack replaced the struggling Mikel. And it got worse for Chelsea five minutes later when they had a goal disallowed, though nobody could complain when both Florent Malouda, who slipped the ball under Heurelho Gomes, and Joe Cole were given offside. And then came the 44th minute second goal and with it a signal to Manchester that the title race is definitely on again. Bale exchanged passes with Pavlyuchenko, stole forward, slipped inside Paulo Ferreira and found the bottom left corner with his right foot. Clearly Bale enjoys the top stage. At half time Terry was the target for abuse from a Spurs fan as he entered the tunnel. The supporter was led away by security staff. If the events of the first half were not remarkable enough, what happened at the start of the second half were quite amazing. Carlo Ancelotti gambled with a double substitution, Joe Cole and Paulo Ferreira making way for Nicolas Anelka and Branislav Ivanovic, but Didier Drogba pulled up in pain before the kick-off, ran to the bench and indicated that he had damaged his groin. Dowd refused to allow Chelsea to alter their substitution and Drogba reluctantly returned, albeit at half pace. Chelsea's frustration spilled over in the 53rd minute when Lampard's challenge on Modric sparked a brief but ugly 18-man brawl, after which Tom Huddlestone and Deco were booked. Terry was also cautioned, for a foul on Pavlyuchenko and, just minutes later, he slid into Bale and was shown a second yellow card and Chelsea were left to hang on as Spurs dominated the closing stages with Cech making vital saves to prevent a landslide. Lampard's added time goal, from Ballack's cross, came too late for Chelsea.
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