Mar 8, 2014, 2:27 PM EDT
Chelsea beat Tottenham Hotspur 4-0 at Stamford Bridge on Saturday to extend their lead at the top of the Premier League standings, as the Blues are now 14 games unbeaten with 11 wins and three draws.
But it wasn’t plain sailing for Jose Mourinho’s men who were made to work extremely hard by Spurs for the win, as three pivotal second half minutes altered the outcome of this fiery London derby.
Samuel Eto’o — who wasn’t even meant to be starting but replaced Fernando Torres in the lineup after the latter injured himself in the warm-up — scored the first goal after a defensive slip up by Spurs, and the Cameroon international then won a penalty two minutes later. Eden Hazard netted the penalty kick, his 13th PL goal of the season, as Spurs defender Younes Kaboul was sent off for taking down Eto’o in the box after being adjudged to have stopped a clear goalscoring opportunity.
The rest of the game saw Chelsea trying to extend their 2-0 lead, as Tottenham couldn’t recover from a devastating three-minute spell after a bright start from the away side. Late on substitute Demba Ba scored twice in the final two minutes of regulation with tidy finishes from inside the box, as Tottenham’s tired legs struggled to contain Chelsea’s rampant offense.
With the win Chelsea now sit seven points clear at the top of the standings on 66 points, although Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City all have games in hand. Spurs remain in fifth on 53 points.
After just four minutes Chelsea has a glorious chance to go ahead as Hazard raced clear, took the ball around Spurs ‘keeper Hugo Lloris but the angle proved too tight for the Belgian as he hammered his shot wide.
The game then settled down as Tottenham enjoyed a lengthy spell of possession, with Spurs holding their own at the Bridge. They almost went one better than that in the 15th minute as Nabil Bentaleb got free on the left hand side of the penalty box but pulled his effort just wide of the far post with Aaron Lennon lurking, but unable to connect.
Chelsea struggled to create clear cut chances but Spurs certainly didn’t as Sandro hit a instinctive volley towards the bottom corner in the 22nd minute that was tipped wide by a sprawling Petr Cech in goal for Chelsea. The rest of the first half played out with Chelsea trying to prod and probe to get in behind Spurs, but Tim Sherwood’s side were stubborn and looked extremely solid.
First Eto’o put Chelsea 1-0 up in the 56th minute, as Spurs defender Jan Vertonghen slipped and Andre Schurrle pounced to play in Eto’o who made no mistake by slotting past Lloris. Moments later it was 2-0, as Eto’o was played in and just as he was about to shoot Kaboul clattered into him and referee Michael Oliver pointed to the spot for a penalty kick. To compound the award of a penalty, Oliver also showed Kaboul a straight-red card as Spurs were down to 10-men and then 2-0 down as Hazard coolly slotted home the PK.
The rest of the game played out with Chelsea trying flicks and tricks and Spurs struggling to get hold of the ball after being reduced to 10-men. Ba made it 3-0 in the 88th minute when Oscar surged through and the ball fell to Chelsea’s striker in the box and he cleaned up. Then Ba capitalized on a bad mistake from Kyle Walker just a minute later, as he intercepted Walker’s header back to Lloris and stroked the ball home for Chelsea’s fourth and final goal.
Chelsea kept yet another clean sheet as they extended their lead at the top of the PL, while Spurs’ quest for a top four finish took a big hit.
Goals: Eto’o (56′), Hazard (60′), Ba (88′ & 89′)
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