Hasselbaink keeps the dream alive

Tottenham Hotspur 0 Chelsea 1

On the basis that Tottenham had not beaten Chelsea in 14 years, the outcome at White Hart Lane yesterday was entirely predictable. Whether, for Chelsea, it proves enough to give them a sprint start into Tuesday's Champions' League match against Arsenal is much less predictable. They stuttered to succeed yesterday, but in the end their victory closed the gap on Arsenal in the Premiership to a more attainable four points.

On the basis that Tottenham had not beaten Chelsea in 14 years, the outcome at White Hart Lane yesterday was entirely predictable. Whether, for Chelsea, it proves enough to give them a sprint start into Tuesday's Champions' League match against Arsenal is much less predictable. They stuttered to succeed yesterday, but in the end their victory closed the gap on Arsenal in the Premiership to a more attainable four points.

For Claudio Ranieri, voted March manager of the month, the not impossible prospect of depriving Arsenal of the title and removing them from Europe must provide him with enormous motivation. Could Chelsea seriously sack a man who is so dedicated to the club that he could say last night: "We are very close to doing something for Chelsea. Everything is in our hands. We are looking only at ourselves, and we are in good condition for the last matches''?

Spurs had the disconcerting memory of a 4-2 defeat by Chelsea earlier in the season, when Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink tormented them with the fourth goal. His recent hat-trick in 13 minutes against Wolves added further confidence in anticipation both for yesterday's game and Tuesday's against Arsenal, yet in truth it had been a flattering 5-2 win.

Spurs' own tentative European ambitions had largely been carried off in back-to-back defeats by Southampton and Manchester United. The continuous and disruptive rumours about the person who is to take over from David Pleat next season have hardly helped. Fabio Capello, of Roma, is a target but Chelsea could offer him more. Giovanni Trapattoni keeps being mentioned, but not by him. And that could leave the next candidate as Ranieri himself.

Among the brightest of the talents that anyone taking control of Spurs would inherit is, of course, Jermain Defoe. England's most promising contributor against Sweden was an immediate thorn in the defensive construction of a Chelsea side familiarly searching for early cohesion. The constant changing of their starting line-up makes understanding difficult to apply in an instant.

For some 20 minutes Hasselbaink waited in vain for good service from his midfield players, who seemed more concerned about releasing the ball quickly to avoid trouble than searching for openings. As a consequence Spurs had the better chances, including one created by Michael Brown, whose forward ball Defoe turned into a firm, low drive that Marco Ambrosio grasped well.

Moving the ball effectively on a wide front, with Brown and Stephen Carr linking well down the right side and Christian Ziege staying on the left, Spurs maintained a constant threat. Against the trend, Chelsea suddenly caught Spurs static in their own half. Damien Duff, who until that 38th minute had been struggling to get possession, moved brightly on the left, looked up and across the penalty area, where Hasselbaink stepped into an opening and comfortably turned the ball past Kasey Keller, who had previously rarely been troubled.

The replacement of Ziege with Frédéric Kanouté for the second half gave the centre of the Spurs attack greater height, but meant Robbie Keane had to take responsibility for sustaining the pressure from the left side. Spurs felt aggrieved when the referee waved away penalty appeals for handball by John Terry, but the linesman had already spotted an offside infringement. The disappointment only stirred Spurs to further attacks, but at the same time they began to allow Scott Parker and Frank Lampard too much freedom. In the 57th minute, when Hasselbaink saw that Lampard had moved unmarked into the Spurs penalty area, he found him with a short pass, only for Lampard to stumble over the ball and make poor contact with a two-yard shot that Keller managed to stifle.

Tottenham's sense that this was not a day on which luck would favour them surfaced again when Jamie Redknapp (having only recently returned from a sixth-month absence) had to leave the field with a facial injury caused in a clash with his cousin, Lampard. He was taken to hospital and received plastic surgery which could cost him the rest of the season.

Spurs were denied another powerful penalty appeal when Terry tripped Keane, but it seemed more accidental than malicious. Pleat saw a replay and insisted it was a "clean penalty".

Thanks in large measure to the industry of Lampard and Parker in the midfield area, Chelsea managed to play out the match in a slightly more controlled way. Even so, there remained a lack of deep resolve that should give Arsenal cause to feel that, if on Tuesday they can sustain their determination for the full length of the game, they should prevail.

Tottenham Hotspur 0 Chelsea 1
Hasselbaink 38

Half-time: 0-1 Attendance: 36,101

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

Computerised cooking is coming

From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
Football Beyond Borders: Even the most distruptive pupils score at homework club

Education: Football Beyond Borders

Add football to an after-school homework club, and even the naughtiest boys can score
10 best barbecue books

Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power
Ron Dennis exclusive: ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

Ron Dennis shrugs off a poor start to the season in an exclusive interview, and says the glory days will come back
Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most