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Chelsea 1-1 Spurs


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Chelsea F.C. 1 - 1 Tottenham Hotspur

August 31 2008, Premier League, Stamford Bridge, London


Juliano Belletti's first goal of the season was cancelled out by Darren Bent as Chelsea and Tottenham shared the spoils at Stamford Bridge.

The hosts went ahead before the half-hour mark when Bent miskicked his clearance from a low corner, allowing Belletti to steer the ball home with his thigh. However the England striker made amends by slotting home under Petr Cech in first-half stoppage time after the ball took a fortunate deflection off Frank Lampard. Chelsea were determined to find a winner but a combination of a superb rearguard action by Spurs and some wayward finishing earned Spurs their first points at Stamford Bridge since 2004.

With Michael Ballack still nursing a knock, and Mikel John Obi struggling with injury, Luiz Felipe Scolari made just one change to the team that had efficiently dispatched Wigan the previous week; with Juliano Belletti making his first appearance of the new campaign in the defensive midfield role. With Dimitar Berbatov's future still unresolved and Chelsea's north-London rivals bottom of the Premier League table heading into this encounter, thoughts of three points at Chelsea for the first time in nearly twenty years looked very optimistic for the travelling support.

However, the visitors began the game the better of the two teams, settling down instantly and forcing Chelsea into their own half. With Darren Bent the lone frontman, however, Tottenham were posing little threat to Ricardo Carvalho and John Terry, and despite being forced to defend for large periods of the first ten minutes, it was the Blues who looked the most likely to score.

Frank Lampard, making his 250th Premier League appearance for the home side, attempted an audacious chip from all of twenty-five yards which saw Spurs' summer acquisition from PSV Eindhoven; Gomes, in top form as he brilliantly tipped the ball over. The move came about after neat combinations between Deco and Belletti, and it was Joe Cole's intelligent dummy that gave Lampard the space to shoot, but the Brazilian goalkeeper showed excellent agility to palm the ball over the crossbar.

Lampard had found his shooting boots, and with one goal already in the new campaign, was looking likely to add to that total. However many of his shots had been from long range, a clear indication of Spurs' apparent mentality to park the bus and attempt to hit Chelsea on the counter-attack. Their patience almost paid off, however, as Giovani's pass found Bent whose shot was excellent blocked by Carvalho.

Chelsea cranked up the pressure and Belletti's exquisite ball for Anelka saw the Frenchman control magnificently before lashing his shot over when put under pressure by two Tottenham defenders, before Essien's thunderous effort from range left the crossbar trembling. The attempted follow-up from Cole was headed out by Woodgate, earning the Blues a corner, from which they made Spurs pay the price.

Belletti intelligently steered the ball home for his second goal in two league matches against Tottenham at Stamford Bridge; the other a belter from 35 yards. Spurs' man at the front post, Bent, miskicked, giving the Brazilian room to put the ball in the back of the net. However, despite Chelsea dominating the following fifteen minutes as they looked to go into half-time to a content manager, Spurs hit back through the man at fault for the hosts' goal.

Modric's challenge with Frank Lampard saw the ball take a freak deflection off Lampard's leg, bouncing beyond Ricardo Carvalho and straight into the path of Bent, who finished with aplomb on his left foot, guiding the ball under Cech and into the back of the net. It was a shock to the system for Chelsea, who had yet to concede in the Premier League until Bent's goal.

The second half was frustrating for Chelsea, and despite being camped in the Tottenham half of the field for long periods of the closing forty five minutes, failed to break down the visitor's backline. Spurs were happy with a point and a combination of excellent defending and woeful finishing left much to be desired for Chelsea in an attacking sense.

Ashley Cole fizzed a shot wide from a tight angle when the onrushing Nicolas Anelka would have been a better option at the far post, before Lampard again attempted a cheeky lob from outside the box. Essien and Kalou lashed late shots wide, but it was clear that the Blues were missing the physical presence of Didier Drogba and the incisive play of Michael Ballack.

It was a frustrating afternoon for Chelsea who were denied time and time against by resolute defending. With Manchester City away next of Scolari's agenda, a final push to sign Robinho before the transfer window closes would be the ideal way to bolster his squad before the clash at the City of Manchester Stadium.

Chelsea: Cech, Bosingwa, Carvalho, Terry, Ashley Cole, Belletti, Essien, Lampard, Joe Cole, Deco, Anelka
Subs: Cudicini, Di Santo, Malouda, Bridge, Ferreira, Kalou, Alex

Tottenham: Gomes, Zokora, Woodgate, King, Gunter, Bentley, Jenas, Modric, Bale, Giovani, Bent
Subs: Cesar, Huddlestone, Lennon, Gilberto, Dawson, O'Hara, Assou-Ekotto.

Attendance: Approx. 41,500

Referee: Howard Webb

Star Man : Belletti


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