Spurs surge shreds Hiddink's title belief

Tottenham Hotspur 1 Chelsea 0

Guus Hiddink was in no doubt. Chelsea had not just thrown away the opportunity to reduce Manchester United's lead at the top of the Premier League but also, in all probability, tossed away the slim chance they had to be Champions this season. "That's what we said before [the game]," Chelsea's interim manager emphatically declared. "Man U can lose one game and they are still in the driver's seat, but Liverpool and Chelsea are chasing and they cannot afford to drop a single point."

By that reckoning even a draw against Spurs would not have been enough to keep Chelsea in the chase for the man who, on his arrival, had declared a 10-point gap was surmountable. In the end they lost on Saturday, deservedly, a first defeat in eight matches for Hiddink who raced away after this encounter to catch a flight back to Amsterdam, to see his ailing father, and then on to Moscow to fulfil his international duties in Russia's two forthcoming World Cup qualifiers.

He had just "five minutes" with his players in the dressing room after this defeat. But it was enough. Enough for him to make his point. "Sloppy" was a recurring description at what he had witnessed. Even more damagingly he talked of a "lack of commitment" and "concentration" and implied, again, that some Chelsea players may have the talent but not the application.

Eight league games to go for Chelsea, with United having nine, and a deficit of four points. It is not insurmountable but, with a delayed kick-off, because of a suspect vehicle parked outside the stadium, meaning Chelsea knew United had lost at Fulham, what, for them, a frustrating waste.

This was a contest in which Chelsea's deficiencies, papered over since Hiddink's arrival, were exposed. They looked lacking in several key areas – from Alex, understudy to the much-missed Ricardo Carvalho in defence, through to Michael Ballack as an ineffective holding player and Nicolas Anelka, again, anonymous in attack. With Juliano Belletti on the right of a midfield three, Chelsea sorely lacked any attacking intent until Ricardo Quaresma was introduced.

That they were only denied, in a pulsating end to the match, a share of the points, or more, by two first-class saves by Heurelho Gomes said as much for their desperation as their desire. Chelsea did not so much throw the kitchen sink at Spurs as rip out all the fixtures and fittings.

For Spurs this was the sweetest of victories gained through a fine finish by the impressive Luka Modric who vied with Robbie Keane as the contest's outstanding performer. Both are intelligent, influential players who knit teams together and, even in the brief period so far since his return from Liverpool, Keane has vindicated the decision of manager Harry Redknapp to bring him back to White Hart Lane.

Understandably Redknapp lapped it up. "We've certainly got them playing," he said having now overseen draws against United and Arsenal and victories over Liverpool and Chelsea. "Let's see how far we can go and how well we can finish this year." Seventh position is a real possibility with Redknapp, rightly, saying relegation was no longer a concern.

As for the title, he was not writing Chelsea off just yet, but added: "If they had beaten us, they'd have been right in the hunt again. Today, I thought they'd be more of a threat than they were." He wasn't the only one.

Goal: Modric (50) 1-0.

Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Gomes; Corluka, King, Woodgate, Assou-Ekotto; Lennon (Zokora, 90), Palacios, Jenas, Modric (O'Hara, 87); Keane, Bent. Substitutes not used: Cudicini (gk), Bentley, Huddlestone, Pavlyuchenko, Dawson.

Chelsea (4-1-3-2): Cech; Bosingwa, Terry, Alex, A Cole; Ballack; Belletti (Quaresma, 61), Essien (Malouda, 76), Lampard; Anelka, Drogba. Substitutes not used: Hilario (gk), Ivanovic, Di Santo, Kalou, Mancienne.

Referee: M Dean (Wirral).

Booked: Spurs Palacios, Modric; Chelsea Belletti, Ballack.

Man of the match: Keane.

Attendance: 36,034.

New Articles
tvDownton Abbey Christmas special
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashion
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

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all