Sunday, 20 August 2017


Antonio Conte started the weekend with a laugh, and he will be enjoying the last laugh as the weekend draws to a close. 

After struggling to control himself when asked to discuss Diego Costa in his pre-Tottenham press conference, the Italian made a mockery of people doubting him with a superb managerial display as Chelsea beat Spurs in their first game at their temporary home of Wembley.

With Gary Cahill and Cesc Fabregas suspended, Conte opted to field the half-fit Tiemoue Bakayoko in a midfield three with N'Golo Kante and David Luiz, bringing young Andreas Christensen and summer signing Antonio Rudiger into the back line.

And the decision paid off, with the visitors holding firm against a heavily-backed Spurs side thanks to some excellent last-ditch defending and a series of impressive saves from Thibaut Courtois.

Marcos Alonso added the much-needed flair to Conte's side, grabbing both goals - a delightful free-kick and a last-minute winner - either side of Michy Batshuayi's 82nd minute own goal.

For all the negativity surrounding Chelsea before the game, they were the dominant team after kick-off.

And just five minutes in they should have been ahead, but Morata sent a free header wide from six yards after Kante curled a delightful cross into the area.

The hosts started to dominate the ball following that miss, even if a cutting edge in the final third was lacking.

Kane fired a 30-yard shot straight at Courtois which the keeper spilled, but no one was there to follow up and capitalise.

Alli took advantage of a mistake from Christensen but could only fire over the bar, before Dembele’s deflected drive flew just high of Courtois’ goal.

Chelsea’s attacks grew rarer, and a free-kick looked to have been wasted when it was cleared just outside the box. David Luiz picked up possession and was taken down by Alli, with another set piece awarded just to the right of centre.

Willian, who scored a free-kick against Spurs in the FA Cup semi-final last season, lined up to strike the ball with his right foot, but Alonso was the man who stepped forward and curled a spectacular left-footed effort past the despairing Lloris to hand the Blues the lead.

Courtois ensured the lead remained intact with a fine save from Kane’s angled shot, as Spurs finally managed to find some space in the congested midfield area.

Kane put in some excellent individual work to create the chance for himself, but, under pressure from Alonso, his low strike deflected off Courtois and away from goal. Moments later Kane dragged another shot wide from just outside the area.

It was another free-kick which should have led to the hosts’ equaliser.

Luiz was penalised for blocking Eriksen off the ball, and the Dane stepped up with an effort that curled just in front of Courtois. Attackers rushed in to convert the cross, but the ball evaded everyone and fell just wide of the far post.

Next time it was the post that denied Spurs, with Kane’s powerful strike deflecting back off the woodwork to Wanyama – who drew a save from Courtois.

The keeper was called back into action moments later as Spurs pressed in the final seconds of the opening period, and he was equal to Davies deflected attempt – keeping Chelsea in front as the half-time whistle blew.

Seconds after the restart Spurs were on the attack again, continuing the intensity they showed at the end of the first half.

Kane and Eriksen both wasted chances, before Azpilicueta was forced to intervene with a last-ditch clearance as Kane closed in on Trippier’s cutback.

Chelsea were being pushed further and further back, but still the defence held firm.

Christensen and Rudiger both made important clearing headers, with Morata also showing his worth at the back with a vital block from a corner.

The Blues broke quickly with a rare attack which led to Morata winning a corner from a deflected shot, with Moses firing just over the bar from the resultant set play.

Willian managed a 25 yard strike which crashed against the post as well, as the visitors found space for themselves in the final third following the withdrawal of Dier for Son.

But Chelsea could hold on for no longer, as substitute Batshuayi could only divert Eriksen’s free-kick past Courtois with 10 minutes remaining.

Two further Eriksen deliveries were cleared with Spurs attackers lurking, and with men committed forward Kante broke into attack and launched the move which led to Alonso’s winner.

Lloris gathered the ball and launched it to Sissoko in midfield, who was quickly robbed by Luiz. Possession made its way to Alonso on the left wing, and he fired the ball in at the France goalkeeper’s near post to get the Blues’ season back on track.

Be the first to Comment on this post