Blues blow nine-man Spurs apart in pulsating display of holding nerves and scoring goals in 4-1 win
By Paul Lagan at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Spurs 1 v Chelsea 4
Nine-man Spurs almost, almost pulled off a sensational result but ultimately succumbed to the clinical counter-attacking prowess of Chelsea who ran out 4-1 winners in a game pulsating with fouls, cards, goals and the interaction of that modern day phenomenon that is VAR.
Nicolas Jackson helped himself to a hat-trick in the process but it will be VAR that will be under scrutiny – and for the most part got it right.
But it has to be said Spurs did nothing to help their cause and the red cards for Cristian Romero and Destiny Udogie were justified.
Chelsea held their nerves and heads and took full advantage to inflict the league leaders' first defeat of the season.
This was supposed to be the game that cemented Spurs hold at the top, but they crumbled under the pressure before realising that by playing proper football, they might actually get themselves out of jail.
It was too little, too late.
But there simply was no answer to the west Londoners' resolve to punish the home side and as a result reach the dizzy heights of 10th in the Premier League
It took just six minutes and a first serious attack on goal for the home side to take the lead.
A simple attack, starting deep in their own half on the left, saw the ball moved quickly through midfield to the right where Dejan Kulusevski tried a left-footed curler from the apex of the area. The ball took a wicked deflection off Levi Colwill and zipped into the back of the net.
Nicolas Jackson had the perfect chance to level on 12 minutes after Pedro Porro lost possession to Raheem Sterling. The winger fed Jackson who cut through two defenders before letting fly with a smart shot. But Guglielmo Vicario was equal to the task and parried the ball away to safety.
It looked all over for the Blues when they went two behind after Heung-Min Son tucked home. But VAR intervened and after a couple of minutes waiting, offside was given, much to the relief of the Chelsea fans ticked in the corner of the stadium.
Seconds later Destiny Udogie jumped into a challenge on Sterling with two feet raised. Again VAR intervened but upheld referee Michael Oliver's original decision to give a yellow card.
Sensationally, the visitors thought they had equalised through a robust attack by Sterling on the left.
Reece James fed the wide man who just would not be put off as he arrowed to in on the left. The ball hit the hand of Sterling along the way as he tucked home.
VAR was quickly in action again and rightly disallowed the goal.
A long range effort by Enzo on 25 minutes was embarrassing as it zoomed high and well wide of the goal.
Again the Blues had the ball in the back of the net on 28 minutes when Moises Caicedo drove home with a left footer.
VAR was once more employed to check if Jackson was offside.
Three minutes elapsed before a foul was then looked at suggesting he was offside but Sterling was fouled by Porro just before.
Oliver was Instructed to go to the monitor where Porro was then given a red card and Chelsea given a penalty.
Brennan Johnson was then replaced by Eric Dier.
But up stepped Cole Palmer who scored but only after whacking Vicario's left post.
The goal was scored on the 35 minute – seven minutes after the initial strike by Caicedo.
Incredibly Chelsea had the ball in the back of the net two minutes later through Jackson, But Sterling was offside as he set up the striker.
On a one-on-one chase with Jackson towards the Spurs goal, Micky van de Ven pulled up with a hamstring injury.
Twelve minutes were given by the fourth official for added time as Van de Ven was replaced by Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg. Surprisingly, James Maddison was also replaced by Emerson Royal - perhaps he was injured.
Levi Colwill and Pape Sarr had a bit of afters and were given a yellow card apiece after Jackson had got a yellow card for pulling back Sarr.
Chelsea head coach Mauricio Pochettino replaced Colwill at half-time with Marc Cucurella.
But within nine minutes of the restart, the home side were reduced to nine men when Udogie hacked down Sterling and was given a second yellow followed by a red card by Oliver.
Pochettino increased the firepower by brining off Enzo with Mykhailo Mudryk on 58 minutes.
Vicario then made a double save, first thwarting Jackson and then the follow-up by Palmer.
It was backs to the wall stuff for Spurs with the occasional hint of a counter-attack.
Spurs then took off Kulusevski for Oliver Skipp and then Sarr for Rodrigo Bentancur on 61 minutes.
Spurs' tactic of having a high line, almost to the half-way line was a risky one, that when it works and the Blues trail offside, then it's effectively but it only needed one break for it all to fall apart.
Spurs got lucky on 68 minutes when Cucurella broke free but Vicario came to the rescue.
Spurs fans were desperate for any Chelsea foul to be deemed a red card offence such was their fear of the Blues snatching the lead.
Chelsea lost their way a little bit with 20 minutes to go – stray passing and silly errors creeping into their play.
The inevitable happened on 75 minutes. Sterling broke the high line offside on the right. He raced into the penalty area and slid the ball to in-running Jackson, who tucked home.
But once again VAT decided to become the star of the show and looked at a possible offside for Jackson but rightly gave the goal.
James still getting minutes on the pitch after his recent injury was replaced the following minute by Malo Gusto.
Dier then incredibly volleyed home to level the score only for VAR to confirm a linesman's offside decision
It was a wonderful strike however.
Mudryk was then given a yellow for a late challenge on Vicario.
Sterling was then replaced by Lesley Ugochukwu with a minute of regulation time left.
In fact nine minutes were added on.
The home fans got behind their side as they pushed forward for the equaliser – Chelsea started to feel the tension.
Son almost did it but his low angled shot was parried away to safety by Sanchez.
Up zipped the Blues to the other end instantly and in an almost repeat offering Spurs succumbed to the breakaway and it was Jackson who smashed home the third goal.
Seconds later and it was 4-1 as Jackson beat the offside trap, rounded Vicario and tapped home for his hat-trick.
It was a classic Spurs v Chelsea encounter - breathless, littered with fouls, tension and goals. Oh yes and VAR.
Teams: Spurs: Vicario, Porro, Romero, Van de Ven, Udogie, Bissouma, Sarr, Kulusevski, Maddison, Johnson, Son Heung-min
Subs, Skipp, Hojbjerg, Richarlison, Gil, Emerson-T-Royal, Dier, Lo Celso, Forster, Bentancur
Chelsea: Sanchez, James, Disasi, Silva, Colwill, Caicedo, Enzo, Palmer, Gallagher, Sterling, Jackson
Subs: Cucurella, Badiashile, Mudryk, Madueke, Ugochukwu, Gusto, Petrovic, Maatsen, de Souza Eugenio,
Referee: Michael Oliver