In the aftermath, Jose Mourinho simply blamed the referee again, an old trick of his but one that he has used to certain effect over the years. Yet even he will know that with every deployment this excuse becomes that bit less of a distraction from the real show.
The real show was that his Chelsea team were well-beaten by a Tottenham Hotspur side sparked into life by a marvellous equaliser from Harry Kane on 27 minutes, the first of his two goals, that changed the course of the game. The young Englishman tormented the Chelsea defence, in particular Gary Cahill who also conceded a penalty to the striker and ended the game by helplessly booting Kane in the back as he lay prone on the turf.
That was one way of summing up Chelsea’s afternoon of frustration, and Cahill was fortunate that referee Phil Dowd did not see it. The truth for the league leaders is that they looked jaded, in particular their leading lights such as Cesc Fabregas, Diego Costa, Nemanja Matic and Cahill which is a concern for Mourinho as he tried to navigate the season with as few changes as possible to his line-up.
The Chelsea manager once again embarked on one of his criticisms of the match official, making the assumption that everyone in the room will have thought that a first half handball appeal against Jan Vertonghen was a penalty. That was a cause for debate. What was less convincing was the Chelsea manager’s claim that at two goals up Chelsea would never have lost the game.
Judging by the way Kane shredded Mourinho’s defence, anything was possible on this occasion. This is not the way Mourinho’s team are supposed to lose, with the goals flying in at either end and defence dominated by attack. A Chelsea team of his had never conceded four before, let alone five.
All this and Frank Lampard’s second match-winning goal of the season for Chelsea’s title rivals Manchester City against Sunderland. Days do not come much worse for Chelsea, who now lead the Premier League by virtue of alphabetical order from City with whom they have an identical record.
After such an indifferent start to the season, Mauricio Pochettino must take great credit for his club’s first win over Chelsea since April 2010 and his first over Mourinho as a manager. Their attacking spirit was embodied by Kane whose two goals take him to 17 for the season and mark the further emergence of an unorthodox but beguiling English talent.
It was the kind of game you might expect at the end of a draining Christmas run of matches, and it was compelling entertainment. When Chelsea beat Spurs 3-0 at Stamford Bridge in early December, the game as good as over as soon as the home team took the lead. This time Spurs’ response to falling behind was very different.
The away team were calling the shots for the first 17 minutes in the build-up to their goal. The tempo was just how Mourinho’s players wanted it, Matic mopped up the occasional problems in midfield and when the ball dropped to the feet of Eden Hazard on the left wing there was always danger.
At right-back, Kyle Walker, playing just his fourth league game of the season was having one of those days when it must have felt like he had his boots on the wrong feet. There were some familiar grumblings from the home fans around the dugout. Ryan Mason hobbled off with a strain and it took around four minutes for the ball to go out of play so Pochettino could replace him with Mousa Dembele.
When Costa scored the goal that gave Chelsea the lead, the story was taking a familiar shape. It was Hazard who made the chance, getting free on the right side and hitting a shot that struck the post. Oscar aimed for goal with the rebound and it fell for Costa who guided it over the line from close range.
With Spurs vulnerable, Mourinho’s side did not create the chances to score the second and they paid for it. Kane’s equaliser came from nothing and it gave his team-mates the confidence to assert themselves in the game.
Kane cut in from the left with Oscar trailing in his wake, and as soon as he sensed the space to pivot and shoot he did so, pinging a right foot shot beyond Thibaut Courtois’ right hand and into the corner of the Chelsea goal.
For the final 15 minutes of the half, Spurs matched their opponents but most crucially they took their chances. A mistake by Cesar Azpilicueta turned over possession on 44 minutes and Christian Eriksen was in, slipping a ball through the retreating back line to Nacer Chadli whose shot struck the post. With the ball loose, Danny Rose got to it a just before Cahill to score.
It was Cahill who gave away the penalty minutes later, once again fractionally late, this time on Kane and clearly tripped the striker. It had become giddy at White Hart Lane even before Andros Townsend slotted a left footed penalty past Courtois with the final kick of the half.
These are the kind of days that they live for at Spurs, although when they went three goals ahead six minutes after the break there was a mild disbelief. This was a game they had barely had a toehold in for the first 15 minutes and yet here was Kane again, spinning away from Matic and confidently placing the ball past Courtois for his 17th of the season.
It would become heated on the Chelsea bench later, when Mourinho complained bitterly about the slowness with which the ball was returned to play. Then he would rage against a challenge by Federico Fazio on Hazard. Before then Chelsea brought the score back to 4-2, Hazard exchanging passes with Fabregas to score.
It took a save from Hugo Lloris to stop a strike from Azpilicueta before Chadli scored the fifth, a deflected shot off John Terry. The Chelsea captain scored the third for his team, arriving at the far post unmarked. Before the end, Mourinho reached across for the handshakes with the opposite bench, although it was with rather less flourish this time.Reuse content