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

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss