Chelsea extend their lead at the top with victory over 10-man Spurs
PUBLISHED: 19:27 08 March 2014 | UPDATED: 22:13 08 March 2014
PA Wire/Press Association Images
Premier League: Chelsea 4 Tottenham 0
Chelsea extended their lead at the top of the Premier League and further undermined Tottenham’s top-four challenge after a home win over the 10-man Lilywhites at Stamford Bridge.
With their title challengers all in FA Cup action this weekend, the Blues had the chance to go seven points clear at the summit – and they took it.
Spurs were worthy opponents in the first half, but Jose Mourinho’s side struck twice in four minutes around the hour-mark.
A costly error from Jan Vertonghen gifted Samuel Eto’o the all-important opener, and Younes Kaboul was then sent off while conceding a penalty against the Chelsea striker, with Eden Hazard scoring from the spot. Demba Ba then came off the bench and added two more goals in the closing stages.
Spurs remain four points outside the Champions League spots, and the six teams around them in the table all have games in hand.
There were two changes to the Chelsea line-up, with Frank Lampard replacing Oscar and Eto’o making a late entry onto the teamsheet after Fernando Torres was injured in the warm-up.
Meanwhile, Kyle Walker, Kaboul and Gylfi Sigurdsson all returned from injury for Tottenham - and Tim Sherwood sprung a surprise BY fielding Walker on the right of midfield and playing Aaron Lennon centrally behind Emmanuel Adebayor.
Chelsea created a good opportunity in the opening exchanges as Andre Schurrle and Eto’o combined to release Hazard, who skipped around Hugo Lloris but shot wide of the open goal. However, Spurs grew into the game and Adebayor won a header to free Nabil Bentaleb, who advanced into the box but scuffed his shot across goal.
Midway through the first period, a half-cleared ball fell to Sandro just outside the Blues’ box, and he hit a first-time volley towards the bottom left corner, forcing Petr Cech to get down and make a sharp save.
At the other end, Nabil Bentaleb played his side into trouble by giving the ball to Eto’o, who raced forward into the Tottenham box, but Kaboul did well to stay on his feet and narrow the angle, and the striker fired wide.
Jose Mourinho made a half-time substitution, swapping Lampard for Oscar - and Eto’o nearly made contact with Schurrle’s cross soon after the restart, while Schurlle failed to get hold of a shot just inside the box.
Kaboul headed at Cech from a corner, but Chelsea began to exert more pressure and Kyle Naughton and Sandro were both booked in quick succession for halting Hazard and Branislav Ivanovic respectively.
The breakthrough followed in the 56th minute, and it came courtesy of a horrible error from Vertonghen, who slipped over and, in trying to make amends, hacked the ball back to Eto’o, who aceepted the gift and finished past Lloris.
Things quickly went from bad to worse for Spurs on the hour-mark as Kaboul was adjudged to have fouled Eto’o in the box. Referee Michael Oliver awarded a penalty and showed the Lilywhites defender a straight red card, and Hazard converted from the spot.
Spurs’ problems continued to mount as Michael Dawson limped off, and Chelsea threatened to increase their advantage, with three low crosses being cut out and Oscar firing over the bar when well-placed inside the box.
The third goal duly arrived in the 87th minute as Oscar raced in behind Zeki Fryers and, although Sandro was first to the cross, he could only present the ball to Ba, who fired home.
It was another soft goal and a fourth swiftly followed as Walker attempted to head the ball back to Lloris from 40 yards out, giving the ball to Ba, who finished into an empty net.
Chelsea: Cech, Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta, Matic, Lampard (Oscar 45), Ramires, Schurrle (Willian 66), Hazard, Eto’o (Ba 76)
Tottenham: Lloris, Naughton, Dawson (Fryers 72), Kaboul, Vertonghen, Sandro, Bentaleb, Walker, Sigurdsson (Paulinho 61), Lennon, Adebayor