Chelsea 4 Tottenham 0 match report: Samuel Eto’o stoops to conquer sorry Spurs
Striker has cheeky dig at Mourinho after his goal sparks a rout aided by Kaboul’s harsh dismissal
Saturday 08 March 2014
Old habits lived strong at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea claimed yet another win over Tottenham at home, Tim Sherwood’s side conspired to characteristically gift them those points, and Samuel Eto’o set it all up with an opportunistic opening strike that recalled his best form and produced a joke about his age.
The end product of all that, meanwhile, is something else we have become well accustomed to over the past decade: a Jose Mourinho team increasing their lead at the top of a League table.
The Portuguese stated that “objective number one, top four, is in our hands” but still would not move on from down-playing the title challenge. “Now let’s go for objective number two, top three with direct Champions’ League qualification.”
Mourinho even insisted that he would still rather be in Manchester City’s situation due to their goal difference, despite the fact Chelsea are nine points clear of them, albeit with three games more played.
“If they win the matches, they’re top of the League. If you win the next nine matches, we may not be champions. If we win nine matches, maybe we are not champions. If City win the 12 matches they have, they’re champions. They have the destiny in their own hands. I would prefer to have destiny in my own hands.”
Sherwood was much more critical of the manner in which his team surrendered to their supposedly eternal fate at this stadium. “Too often, and again today, against the big sides [we cave in]. We were 2-0 down with 10 men at Chelsea, you’re not going to win the game. But you want to see a bit more pride, a bit more clever.
“I don’t want to be the only one who shouts at them. They need to sort it out themselves sometimes among themselves. Massively disappointed. Not too much about the result and the performance in the first half, but on the capitulation that the team showed, and showed too often this season.”
The capitulation is not the only aspect of the game that should have irritated Sherwood. There was also the fact that, for almost all of the first 55 minutes, it seemed like Spurs had finally set up the best possible chance to claim a first victory at Stamford Bridge in 24 years. Although Sherwood’s initial formation raised eyebrows, it resulted in Spurs greatly raising their game and enjoying the better of the match. That is why the eventual defeat will have been so galling. Even 10 minutes into the second half, this was not a vintage Mourinho transformation as in last week’s 3-1 win at Fulham.
By that point, however, we had at least seen some vintage Eto’o again – with the mischievous celebration to match. Although the forward had remained on the fringes of the contest, he was suddenly played right into front and centre by an atrocious Jan Vertonghen backpass.
Never one to waste an opportunity like that, regardless of where he was in his career, Eto’o bore down on Hugo Lloris and slotted the ball between the Tottenham goakeeper’s legs. Afterwards, the forward, using the corner flag as a walking stick, mimicked a hip problem, to mock all the recent controversy about his age, that had been prompted by remarks made by his manager.
Mourinho smiled about it. “I didn’t suggest it but we knew it,” the Chelsea manager said. “We knew it. We thought it was more than fine. The best way to diffuse the situation is to make fun of a funny situation, so it was good. Some newspapers did great with photoshop. Now they don’t need photoshop.”
Given the way the game was going, Chelsea probably did not strictly need a referee error in their favour at that point either, but they got two. Eto’o went over easily in the box after minimal contact from Younes Kaboul, a harsh penalty was awarded, and the Spurs defender received an even harsher red card.
Sherwood put it all in his own inimitable way. “It all went Pete Tong after the goal. Anyone can slip up. I appreciate the referees have a very tough job, but that one went against us. I think it’s a soft decision. I think it’s not a penalty. It’s a shame the referee didn’t get the chance to look at it again.”
Mourinho had no sympathy. “I didn’t watch, so I cannot really comment for good or bad,” he said of the decision. “But I complain with referees during all my career, now less, but I’ve always done it, but never when I’ve lost 4-0. When you lose 4-0, you go home and do not complain about the ref.”
That was the ultimate consequence of that penalty, which Sherwood found so frustrating: complete collapse. Hazard stroked the ball into the centre of the net from the spot, and it was always going to take much more than a tactical masterstroke from Sherwood to overturn that. Instead, substitute Demba Ba turned in the third and fourth goals in the dying stages. Old trends lived on.
Chelsea: Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta; Matic, Ramires, Lampard (Oscar 45;); Hazard, Schurrle (Willian 66); Eto’o (Ba 86 7).
Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris; Naughton, Dawson (Fryers 72), Kaboul, Vertonghen; Sandro, Bentaleb; Walker, Lennon, Sigurdsson (Paulinho 61); Adebayor.
Referee: Michael Oliver
Match rating: 6/10
Man of the match: Cesar Azpilicueta
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