Modric halts Hiddink's run as Chelsea fail to narrow gap

Tottenham Hotspur 1 Chelsea 0

As Guus Hiddink boarded his plane back to Amsterdam last night for the international break that then takes him on to Russia, he will have reflected on this, the one that got away and with it, perhaps, the slim hopes of the Premier League title also. Sloppy, wasteful and, for the first time under him, an intimation from the Chelsea manager, interim or permanent, that "gifted players" at his disposal had perhaps believed the hype a bit too much. Again. They let him, and Chelsea, down.

"It was a huge opportunity missed, knowing that United were 2-0 down," Hiddink said, containing his rage. Just. "By the time the team had woken up they were down." But that opportunity to close the gap at the top to a single point was tossed away, and the Dutchman's eighth game in charge ended with a first defeat. "These are the moments to strike," Hiddink added.

Because of a delayed start – a suspect vehicle meant the match kicked off at 3.30pm – Chelsea knew what had happened at Craven Cottage. It made it all the more annoying for Hiddink, whose ire must have been directed at lacklustre displays by Michael Ballack and Nicolas Anelka in particular. Still, Spurs were indebted to two outstanding saves late on from Heurelho Gomes – palming away John Terry's point-blank header from a free-kick and tipping another header, this time from Alex, on to the crossbar in injury time. Not that Spurs, bold and positive, didn't deserve their victory, courtesy of a fine strike from the impressive Luka Modric even if, for his intelligence, his calm in the eye of a raging storm of a London derby, Robbie Keane was the stand-out presence.

Spurs are resurgent under Harry Redknapp, who boldly claimed that his team were playing as well as any in the League and that all fear of relegation was now banished. Instead it is onwards and upwards and a tilt at grabbing that seventh spot, and Europa League football next season.

Qualifying for next year's World Cup is, for the next 10 days at least, Hiddink's primary concern after he visits his sick, elderly father today before flying to Moscow for two games – Russia at home to Azerbaijan and away to Liechtenstein. It may be somewhat different to the white heat and fury of this encounter.

How Chelsea missed Ricardo Carvalho. A swollen ankle ruled out the defender and soon Spurs were stretching their opponents, with Jermaine Jenas's drive narrowly clearing the bar and, twice, Keane being presented with opportunities, forcing a parry from Petr Cech with a half-volley after Alex's error, and then wasting an opportunity with a side-footed shot, held by the goalkeeper, following a barrelling run by Vedran Corluka.

From Chelsea, there was no threat. And then they fell behind. Ballack was to blame, firstly by surrendering possession and then by failing to track Modric. Ballack's loose clearance eventually led to Jonathan Woodgate heading the ball out to Aaron Lennon, watched by England's manager, Fabio Capello. He ran at Ashley Cole. For once Lennon's delivery was clever and precise as he pulled his cross back for Modric to shoot low and powerfully and beyond Cech for only his fourth goal of a burgeoning season.

Hiddink talked of Chelsea's failure "in the kitchen" to put out Spurs' fire and Modric, in almost a carbon copy of the goal, threatened to add a second when Keane's superb cross-field pass instigated another attack.

Chelsea had to respond. On came Ricardo Quaresma, for the defensive Juliano Belletti, and they poured forward. Ledley King brilliantly blocked Anelka, Gomes parried Drogba's low shot and then the Brazilian made his two outstanding saves to preserve an outstanding victory.

Attendance: 36,034

Referee: Mike Dean

Man of the match: Keane

Match rating: 7/10

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
health
News
science
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
News
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
people
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
News
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Sport
football
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power