Football

Tottenham snatch dramatic late draw with Chelsea in feisty London derby

A new era at both clubs, a new outcome in this fixture, and some hilariously old-fashioned aggro.

A match that went against all form by finishing all square between Chelsea and Tottenham also culminated in the two managers squaring up to each other, although that almost felt an inevitable ending to an occasion that crackled with emotion and fury.

Thomas Tuchel was sent off after provoking Antonio Conte with the apparent firmness of his handshake, the absurdity of that sentence summing up what was a vintage piece of Premier League pantomime as it reaches its 30th anniversary.

The most relevant element of all that might have been Spurs doing to Chelsea what Chelsea so often do to them, and claiming a result with a rancorous show of character – and no little cynicism. Conte would say that’s what it takes at this level.

Harry Kane finally returned to his best level, plundering a stoppage-time equaliser with a fine header from a corner.

Chelsea were instead left raging about how that had been allowed after Cristian Romero had seemingly pulled Marc Cucurella’s hair, but they had enough to fume about. The crowd were furious at official Anthony Taylor.

It initially looked like it might give them the fire to win the game.

Under Conte, though, Spurs will always have that bit more.

They also proved there might genuinely be more about them this season. This would so often have been the sort of game they lost, as is illustrated by the fact it was the first time Tuchel had ever dropped points against Spurs.

Conte’s side weren’t at their best. They were very often second best. But the fact they still just forced a point out of that reinforces the talk they could actually produce a title challenge.

It was all the more impressive because they had twice looked beaten, especially in the first half.

Son Heung-Min and Kane have rarely been so tepid as a partnership.

That was largely down to the inspired use of the imperious Reece James to completely break the link between the two, mostly by man-marking the Korean.

It didn’t help Conte that N’Golo Kante looked back to the sort of form he was in when the Italian was manager at Stamford Bridge, immediately filling almost any gap in the Chelsea structure as soon as it opened.

And, on the rare occasion when something appeared, Koulibaly was straight in to close it all up. He shut down Romero with one ferocious tackle early on, sending the famously robust Argentine crashing to the ground.

Kalidou Koulibaly brilliantly volleyed in the opener

It was very much a show of who is boss. Romero would evidently remember that.

While that emphasis on strong defence has occasionally made Chelsea’s attack tepid during the German’s time at Stamford Bridge, there was none of that here. There were all angles, touches and runs, Raheem Sterling and Cucurella giving them a different dimension.

Within that, Kai Havertz was offering some divine touches, and it was his exquisite exchange at pace with Sterling that resulted in the first goal. Hugo Lloris got a good touch to force the corner, but it seemed nobody could do anything about Koulibaly’s volley. It was brilliant, the sort of thing you might expect from a number nine, which was all the more timely given Chelsea need one.

Conte needed a change.

Harry Kane nodded home an injury-time equaliser for Spurs

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg equalised first time round for Spurs

Xural.com

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