BY PAUL LAGAN
Spurs take a slender 1-0 to Stamford Bridge on January 22 keeping the semi-final of the Carabao Cup finely poised.
Harry Kane got the north Londoners crucial goal, albeit from the penalty spot after VAR intervened to award the spot kick after Kane raced clear and was upended by Kepa Arrizabalaga.
The linesman flagged for an offside, referee Michael Oliver gave a free kick. But the VAR referee opted to take control and the offside was rescinded and the penalty awarded. Kane thrashed the ball into the back of the net.
Such is what tight games hinge on and this decision will be subject to much controversy.
However Spurs deserved to go ahead as the west Londoners were ponderous in possession and anaemic in attack.
The second half however was slightly different with Chelsea dominate in possession yet completely bereft of ideas in the final 20 yards.
Spurs were there for the taking, but there was no one to take them.
Spurs had an early shout when Andreas Christensen and Heung-Min Son raced down a long ball. Son went down, claiming a penalty, but referee Michael Oliver wavered play on.
An acrobatic overhead kick by Harry Kane, followed two minutes later as the home side went for the jugular early. Kane’s effort, while on target, was not powerful enough to trouble Kepa Arrizabalaga.
The Blues’ first effort came from the right boot of Callum Hudson-Odoi on seven minutes, but his low, angled drive was well saved by Paulo Gazzaniga.
VAR kicked in on 24 minutes when Harry Kane broke through and Kepa upended the striker.
the linesman gave an offside, but Olivier opted for the VAR referee to decide. Three minutes of deliberation followed when eventually he pointed to the penalty spot.
Kane dispatched the kick with consummate ease to put the byline side 1-0 up.
Chelsea’s inability to deal with the long ball behind their defence with fast runners pressuring them caused the breakthrough.
Chelsea were desperately unlucky six minute from the break when a fine combination move saw Marcos Alonso cut the ball back from the byline on the left. In-running N’Golo Kante tried a deft clip, and the ball zipped off Gazzaniga’s right post with the stopper rooted to the spot.
A cross by Hudson-Odoi on the stroke of half-time fooled the goalkeeper he managed to tap the ball onto the inside of the post and was gratefully cleared.
There were no changes at half-time by either side.
Kane was involved in the first effort on goal after the restart on 52 minutes, his long-range effort, was brilliantly tipped round his right post by Kepa.
hazard tried a similar effort two minutes, later – Gazzaniga was equal to the task.
That was quickly followed by a rash per by kante – again Gazzaniga did well to parry the ball clear.
Christensen missed a sitter on 59 minutes. A hazard corner was knocked on by Ross Barkley and the Dan defender was free at the far post. He tried a volley which went away for a goal kick rather than a goal.
With Chelsea dominating pressure but no end result, head coach Maurizio Sarri decided o a change, bringing on Pedro for Willian on 63 minutes.
A minute before that Chelsea had a shout for a handball by Toby Alderweireld dismissed by Oliver on 74 minutes.
Mateo Kovacic was next to enter the fray a minute later as Spurs easily absorbed the pressure created by the visitors. Barkley made way.
Olivier Giroud was the last throw of the die on 80 minutes. He replaced ineffectual Hudson-Odoi.
Spurs were content to defend deep, while the Blues pushed forward, but the blanket defence by the men in white was more than enough.
Teams: Chelsea, Arrizabalaga, Rudiger, Alonso, Jorginho, Kante, Barkley, Hazard, Hudson-Odoi, Willian, Christensen, Azpilicueta
Subs: Caballero, Pedro, Kovacic, Giroud, Zappacosta, Luiz, Ampadu
Spurs: Gazzaniga, Trippier, Rose, Alderweireld, Sanchez, Son, Sissoko, Alli, Eriksen
Subs: Lloris, Lamela, Walker-Peters, Llorente, Foyth, Davies, Skipp
Referee Michael Oliver