Football: Chelsea remain top of the league following a determined win over London rivals Tottenham in a captivating clash.
Spanish playmaker Juan Mata was in enthralling form, scoring two of Chelsea’s goals in three minutes as they secured their first league win at White Hart Lane since 2005.
Spurs responded to Gary Cahill’s early goal by taking the lead early in the second half. They were unable to hold onto it, however, as Chelsea responded positively to seal a fine victory for Roberto di Matteo’s men.
“Apart from 10 to 12 minutes when Spurs came out very sharp, we played well,” said the Italian. “But we showed our character and our ability in how we responded.”
Questions inevitably came about Chelsea’s title credentials, but di Matteo said: “I think it is too early to tell, but our start makes us a stronger. I still think you need to wait until Christmas.”
The visitors took the lead on 17 minutes through Cahill, who put his side ahead with a stunning volley after William Gallas’s clearance fell invitingly to the Chelsea player on the edge of the penalty area. Tottenham, who were desperately poor at times, struggled to respond.
Defensively Chelsea looked solid, with Cahill and David Luiz relatively untroubled in the absence of John Terry, who missed out for the first of four matches following his FA ban.
Spurs found themselves back in the match just one minute after the interval, through Gallas, who applied a header from close range after team-mate Jan Vertonghen had hooked a free-kick back across the face of Chelsea’s goal.
On 54 minutes, the hosts took the lead. Again, it was Chelsea’s defence that had let them down after Jermain Defoe finished well from close range after Aaron Lennon squirmed free of his marker to deliver a low pass into the feet of his team-mate.
Chelsea were back in the game on 65 minutes when Mata claimed yet another bad clearance from Gallas, slotting the ball low past Brad Friedel from the edge of the penalty area.
Minutes later, the Spaniard put his side ahead after he applied a cool finish following a good team move.
Eden Hazard received the ball, and played a superb pass through to Mata, whose movement inside his markers was of the highest order. The Chelsea player easily finished past Friedel. Substitute Sturridge completed the win with a simple tap-in after good work from Mata.