Tottenham yesterday threw open the title race as they achieved their first victory over Chelsea in 16 years. Their joy was magnified as Arsenal lost at West Ham on a dramatic day's football in the Premiership.
Long before the official fireworks displays started there was a whiff of cordite in the capital as Arsenal's manager, Arsène Wenger, squared up to West Ham's Alan Pardew at Upton Park, then John Terry was sent off at White Hart Lane.
The upshot was that Sir Alex Ferguson will this morning celebrate the 20th anniversary of his arrival at Old Trafford by enjoying the sight of Manchester United sitting three points clear at the Premiership summit.
While Jose Mourinho was gracious in defeat on the pitch he delivered a critique of Graham Poll's performance which will doubtlessly be read carefully by the Football Association.
Mourinho was furious both at the referee's dismissal of Terry and his refusal to grant a goal by Didier Drogba which would have put Chelsea 2-0 ahead. They had led after 17 minutes through the improbable boot of Claude Makelele but conceded goals to Michael Dawson and Aaron Lennon either side of half-time. Arjen Robben hit the post in the dying minutes but Tottenham clung on.
West Ham had left it later, defeating Arsenal through an 89th-minute goal from Marlon Harewood. The result took them out of the bottom three.
Mourinho spoke generously of Tottenham's spirit but then patronised them. "I congratulate Spurs and tell them to enjoy the moment as it is a big day for them," he said. "Their fans are very happy now. They were unhappy for 20 years so they should enjoy it."
Mourinho then said of Poll's 72nd-minute dismissal of Terry: "I can not understand why JT was sent off. I have seen it again on TV and cannot find a reason. We had a goal disallowed and only Mr Poll can say why. I think we did not deserve to lose. That was [would have been] 2-0 at a time when Chelsea were by far the best team. Mr Poll goes home. No one can ask him why the reason for these decisions."
When pressed, Mourinho said he never attempted to question Poll because: "They [referees] have always an excuse. He will say someone 30 metres away make a fall. They always have an excuse."
When told Poll had explained the two decisions were both for Terry holding Ledley King, he described the dismissal as "ridiculous" adding: "I don't understand why Mr Poll wants to be part of the show."
Referring to an elbow by Hossam Ghaly on Michael Essien, for which Poll booked the Egyptian, Mourinho added, apparently exasperated: "He can send JT off for holding someone - and keep Ghaly on the pitch when he has a clear elbow on Essien's face!"
The Tottenham striker Robbie Keane, said: "This will give us tremendous confidence. We haven't beaten a big team in the last few years. I'm over the moon."
Jol was less interested in Poll. Asked if he had sympathy for Terry he said he "didn't care" why he was sent off, he only cared that Tottenham had won.
Jol, who was still a player in 1987 in his native Netherlands, fuller of thatch and thinner of waist, added: "It has been a great week. First we win in Europe [over Club Bruges], then this. It was a great performance. I said before the match we have to be brave, to play with flair. To beat a top side like Chelsea, when they have had two days' more rest, is evidence of our spirit and character. I'm a very happy man."
So, this morning, is the Laird of Old Trafford. Ferguson's team host Chelsea on 26 November. "A pity," said Mourinho: "I wish it was tomorrow."Reuse content