Tottenham shine as they hold back top-four rivals at Stamford Bridge

Chelsea 0 Tottenham 0

Tottenham took a crucial step towards beating Chelsea to a top-four
finish in the Barclays Premier League with a more-than-deserved draw in
today's London derby at Stamford Bridge.

Spurs produced arguably their most disciplined away performance of the season to stay five points clear of the fifth-placed Blues, who now face an uphill battle to qualify for next season's Champions League.

It could have been even worse for Chelsea, with Rafael van der Vaart and Emmanuel Adebayor both missing virtual open goals as Tottenham enjoyed the better chances.

The draw extended Spurs' winless run to five matches but this was arguably their most crucial point of their entire season on a ground where they had not tasted victory for more than 22 years.

Roberto Di Matteo's Chelsea rescue act, meanwhile, was suddenly in danger of looking futile, with English football's last remaining European representatives now maybe needing to win the Champions League to qualify for the the competition for a 10th successive season.

They might have been ahead inside five minutes today had Didier Drogba - recalled in place of Fernando Torres - and Frank Lampard not got in each other's way.

Chelsea were marginally the better side but both teams almost seemed too scared to lose, with each goalkeeper a virtual spectator during the opening quarter.

Referee Martin Atkinson waved away muted appeals for a penalty in the 28th minute when Lampard ran into William Gallas' trailing leg after Juan Mata's delightful ball in behind.

Chelsea were starting to make inroads and Kyle Walker was lucky a miscued clearance fell just behind Drogba, who was unable to re-adjust.

But Tottenham were a threat on the break and Adebayor wasted a great chance to cross for Walker after skinning Ramires down the left.

There was a brief hiatus when Drogba went down clutching his left knee in apparent agony but was able to continue after some touchline treatment.

The half looked destined to end goalless when Van der Vaart missed a glorious double-chance in stoppage-time, firing Luka Modric's deflected cross straight at Petr Cech and seeing his rebound effort blocked on the line by Ashley Cole.

The danger was still not cleared and Adebayor nodded over at the third attempt.

There was a more purposeful start to the second half from both sides but Michael Essien overstepped the mark by tripping Modric and was rightly booked.

Drogba then produced some classic centre-forward play to roll Gallas and set up the onrushing Daniel Sturridge for a half-volley the forward screwed well wide.

The Spurs fans were briefly celebrating in the 57th minute when they saw Walker ripple the sidenetting after Gareth Bale jinked past two challenges and found the full-back with a delightful reverse pass.

Adebayor then fell over shaping to hit Bale's cross first time before Di Matteo made his first move, sending on David Luiz at right-back for Jose Bosingwa.

Ramires was furious to be denied a penalty after a coming together with Benoit Assou-Ekotto while challenging for Sturridge's cross.

Assou-Ekotto, Mata and Ramires were then all hurt during a skirmish on the right touchline, which saw the former booked for kicking the latter's foot.

Sandro quickly followed for a clumsy tackle on Essien but Van der Vaart escaped with a lecture after reacting furiously to a free-kick awarded for a foul on the same player.

Another controversial Chelsea free-kick saw them go within a post's width of taking the lead 17 minutes from time, Mata whipping the ball against the upright, with the rebound evading both Drogba and Luiz.

Time was running out for the home side and Di Matteo responded by throwing on Torres for Essien, with Spurs boss Harry Redknapp withdrawing Van der Vaart and Sandro for Louis Saha and Jake Livermore.

That came as Modric stood over a free-kick, which Gallas somehow headed over from six yards.

Drogba then sent a weak effort straight at Brad Friedel before Adebayor missed another gilt-edged chance for the visitors.

The striker beat the offside trap to collect Modric's pass and round Cech but gave Gary Cahill a chance to recover and block his finish behind.

The striker nodded over another rebound after Bale hit the bar with the resultant corner, with Tottenham starting to look the more likely winners.

Lampard stung the palms of Friedel with a dipping volley before Di Matteo played his final card by withdrawing Sturridge for Salomon Kalou but Modric's free-kick almost snatched it for Spurs.

PA

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Sheeran arrives at the 56th annual Grammy Awards earlier this year
musicYes, that would be Ed Sheeran, according to the BBC
Arts and Entertainment
AKB48 perform during one of their daily concerts at Tokyo’s Akihabara theatre
musicJapan's AKB48 are one of the world’s most-successful pop acts
News
Ian Thorpe has thanked his supporters after the athlete said in an interview that he is gay
people
News
The headstone of jazz great Miles Davis at Woodlawn Cemetery in New York
news
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll has brought out his female alter-ego Agnes Brown for Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie
filmComedy holds its place at top of the UK box office
News
newsBear sweltering in zoo that reaches temperatures of 40 degrees
Arts and Entertainment
Professor Kathy Willis will showcase plants from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew
radioPlants: From Roots to Riches has been two years in the making
Arts and Entertainment
TV The follow-up documentary that has got locals worried
Arts and Entertainment
Eminem's daughter Hailie has graduated from high school
music
Arts and Entertainment
Original Netflix series such as Orange Is The New Black are to benefit from a 'substantial' increase in investment
TVHoax announcement had caused outrage
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

News
One Direction star Harry Styles who says he has no plans to follow his pal Cara Delevingne down the catwalk.
peopleManagement confirms rumours singer is going it alone are false
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream as Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream

Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil
Saharan remains may be evidence of the first race war, 13,000 years ago

The first race war, 13,000 years ago?

Saharan remains may be evidence of oldest large-scale armed conflict
Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Researchers hope eye tests can spot ‘biomarkers’ of the disease
Sex, controversy and schoolgirl schtick

Meet Japan's AKB48

Pop, sex and schoolgirl schtick make for controversial success
Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor