Match report and free highlights Chelsea end four-game winless run in Premier League with third January victory over London rivals Tottenham; Hakim Ziyech wonder strike and Thiago Silva header help establish 11-point gap between Chelsea and Spurs in race for Champions League football
Monday 24 January 2022 06:24, UK
Hakim Ziyech's stunner and Thiago Silva's towering header helped overpower Tottenham for this third time this month as Chelsea tightened their grip on a top-three finish with a 2-0 victory at Stamford Bridge.
Having eased past their London rivals into the Carabao Cup final 3-0 on aggregate already in January, Chelsea ensured they kept Spurs at arm's length in the race for Champions League football as Thomas Tuchel's side ended a four-game winless run in the Premier League to open up an 11-point gap between themselves and their visitors.
Spurs arrived in west London in buoyant mood after Wednesday's dramatic, last-gasp victory at Leicester and, despite spending the majority of the first period on the back foot, were aggrieved not to head into the break in front after Harry Kane's opener was controversially ruled out for a foul on Silva in the build-up.
Sky Sports co-commentator Gary Neville disagreed with the decision, labelling Silva a "lucky boy", a view Sky Sports pundit Roy Keane rejected in the studio: "Believe it or not, Gary Neville is wrong! When you are running at that pace, Kane does just lean into Silva and I think the referee has made the right decision."
Chelsea were profligate in the first period but found their shooting boots in the second - and in some style, as Ziyech's incredible curled effort flew past a stationary Hugo Lloris into the top corner (47), before Silva doubled the hosts' advantage and condemned Conte a first league defeat in charge of Spurs with a trademark glancing header (55).
Chelsea: Kepa (7), Rudiger (7), Silva (8), Sarr (7), Azpilicueta (6), Jorginho (6), Kovacic (6), Hudson-Odoi (6), Mount (7), Ziyech (8), Lukaku (6).
Subs: Kante (5), Alonso (n/a), Saul (n/a).
Tottenham: Lloris (6), Doherty (5), Tanganga (5), Dier (5), Sanchez (5), Davies (5), Winks (6), Hojbjerg (5), Bergwijn (6), Sessegnon (5), Kane (6).
Subs: Moura (5), Skipp (5), Gil (n/a).
Man of the Match: Hakim Ziyech.
Chelsea made the stronger start and could have been out of sight inside the opening 10 minutes, but wastefulness in front of goal let Spurs off the hook. Romelu Lukaku blazed a volley over with barely 45 seconds on the clock, moments before Callum Hudson-Odoi nodded wide after being found in space at the back post by Lukaku.
Silva fired a header over from a corner soon after before Ziyech's rasping drive drew a rather unorthodox punch from Lloris in the Tottenham goal. Spurs' difficult start could have taken a turn for the worse on 19 minutes but Matt Doherty's late challenge on Malang Sarr survived a lengthy VAR review, which found no serious foul play had occurred.
Chelsea continued to be creative and wasteful in equal measure, with Lukaku swiping at thin air after Mason Mount's centre reached him in the Spurs box, before Hudson-Odoi failed to get a shot away having gathered the rebound.
That gave Spurs belief as the half reached its conclusion, but they were unable to take advantage as the pressure on their goal eased, with Ryan Sessegnon dragging a shot harmlessly wide at the end of a rare counter.
Spurs had the ball in the net two minutes later, with Kane tucking the ball in at the near post, but the celebrations were short-lived, with Kane penalised for a shove on Silva just before he got the shot away.
Any encouragement Spurs got from reaching the interval on level terms evaporated within two minutes of the restart, when Ziyech found the top corner with a truly special strike. It could have got even better for Ziyech and Chelsea, with the Moroccan's rasping drive forcing a stunning save from Lloris seconds later, but a second Chelsea goal soon followed.
Silva rose high above the Spurs defence to head Mount's inch-perfect free-kick home, leaving Spurs with a two-goal deficit to overturn which proved insurmountable, with Kane's late header, which was palmed away by Kepa Arrizabalaga, the closest they came to staging an unlikely comeback, or breaking a six-game goal drought against their old foes.
Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel speaking to Sky Sports: "We were working extremely hard for it and it was a tough match. The effort was outstanding, and it was a deserved win.
"It is so hard to create chances against them, but we were relentless and kept on believing. Keep on going, there was no need for changes, some details of when to take the risk and when not. Encouragement to keep on going.
"I was right behind [Ziyech's goal]. I had the feeling it was a bit too high, but it dropped at the right second. It was a brilliant goal. His technique was brilliant.
"The table is the table; it is our responsibility to prove ourselves every third day and now we have a break, and it was important to go into this break with a performance we want. We needed this but needed also to do things better. The guys are very tired because it was a long run for us."
Tottenham manager Antonio Conte speaking to Sky Sports: "I don't like to lose, and defeat is always difficult for me, but I think to have a nine games in a row without defeat was important.
"In this moment, the gap with other teams like Chelsea is really an important gap and the team and the squad, the game was... I am proud for the effort.
"We tried to do everything but sometimes it is not enough, especially against a team like this. Now there is a big difference between us and the top teams."
Former Chelsea striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink on Sky Sports:
"Ziyech was very good. He's a player who plays with a lot of risk - delivering balls, always looking forward, always trying to play the striker in. His combination play today with Mount was really good.
"How he scored was just amazing. He works a lot harder off the ball than you would think to win the ball back. He's got character and you have to be able to manage that. It happens with big players, it happens with good players and he's one of them."
Chelsea host Plymouth Argyle in the FA Cup fourth round on Saturday February 5 at 12.30pm. Tottenham host Brighton in the same competition on the same day at 8pm.