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Barclays Premier League

White Hart Lane (ATT 36,034) 21st March 2009 - Kick off 15:00 Ref: M Dean

Tottenham Tottenham Hotspur vs Chelsea Chelsea

Spurs dent Blues' title bid

Modric strikes as Chelsea miss out on chance to close gap

By Chris Harvey.   Last Updated: 21/03/09 6:06pm

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Mod-ern man: Luka Modric celebrates his winner

Mod-ern man: Luka Modric celebrates his winner

Chelsea failed to take advantage of Manchester United's slip at Fulham as they lost 1-0 to Spurs.

MATCH FACTS Man of the match - Luka Modric. The Croatian was involved in all Spurs' best moments and his strike for the winner was as sweet as they come. Save of the match - Heurelho Gomes has had his critics since arriving at Spurs but his right-handed stop to deny John Terry an equaliser late on was top drawer. Miss of the match - Aaron Lennon was put through by Modric late on and had a great chance to put Spurs clear but he blazed his effort over. Talking points - With Man Utd crashing to defeat, why were Chelsea so flat in trying to take advantage? Is this the end of their title challenge? Can Spurs now push on and claim a place in Europ?

The Blues, who kicked-off half an hour late at White Hart Lane due to a security scare, knew their title rivals were struggling at Craven Cottage but could not capitalise on the slip, going down to Luka Modric's 50th minute strike.

Guus Hiddink's men looked out of sorts for much of the afternoon and the home side took a deserved lead when the Croatian latched onto Aaron Lennon's centre.

But the Blues piled on the pressure as time ran down and Spurs were indebted to much-maligned keeper Heurelho Gomes for a string of fine saves.

The pick of the Brazilian's stops was a one-handed block to deny John Terry while he was also on hand to snuff out late efforts from florent Malouda and Nicolas Anelka.

Alex also hit the crossbar in stoppage time as Spurs held on.

Harry Redknapp's men were relegation candidates when he took over in October but they are unbeaten in six league games and could be in with a shout for Europe.

Hiddink's men were predictably limited to long shots and Michael Essien, back from a serious injury, forced Gomes into a save which he gathered at the second attempt early on.

Powerful

At the other end, Jermaine Jenas just cleared the angle of crossbar and near post with a fizzing drive.

The hosts got closer in the 18th minute after Alex failed to deal with a long punt forward, with Petr Cech required to beat away Keane's powerful volley.

Cech stopped Robbie Keane again after Vedran Corluka had raced down the right and pulled the ball back, although this effort was much closer to the Chelsea goalkeeper.

The visitors were being denied space on the ball, with Anelka often dropping into midfield to get involved. That was how the France striker started the move that ended with the ball breaking to him on the edge of the area and Gomes saving at the near post.

Encouraged by Chelsea's limited chances, Spurs attempted to break forward. Cech claimed the ball when Keane cut in and had a shot blocked by Alex and the Chelsea goalkeeper also plucked the ball from under his crossbar from Ledley King's looping header.

King clattered Didier Drogba with his thigh while winning a header and the Chelsea striker looked dazed while receiving treatment and heading down the tunnel, the visitors seeing out the first half with 10 men.

Drogba was fit to start the second half but Chelsea were behind within five minutes of the restart.

Lennon received the ball on the right, feigned to go down the flank but instead he crossed early, between Ashley Cole and Frank Lampard.

Keane could have struck but Modric took control of the situation, crisply finishing from the edge of the area into the bottom corner for his fourth goal of the season.

He almost repeated the trick when he got on the end of another Lennon cross, but this time his effort lacked power.

Hiddink's response was to bring on Ricardo Quaresma for Belletti, moments before Lampard struck the frame of the goal with a header at the far post.

Gomes saved from Drogba at the near post and from Quaresma's long-range effort as Chelsea searched for the equaliser.

Drogba sliced another shot wide, with Hiddink's next move to bring on Malouda for Essien.

Terry forced Gomes into his stunning full-stretch save, then King's block on Anelka was equally important. Alex hit the bar deep in injury-time with a header from a corner but Spurs held on.

Tottenham HotspurTeam StatisticsChelsea
1Goals0
01st Half Goals0
5Shots on Target7
6Shots off Target7
1Blocked Shots6
8Corners8
14Fouls8
1Offsides3
2Yellow Cards2
0Red Cards0
73.8Passing Success79.7
18Tackles19
83.3Tackles Success84.2
38.8Possession61.2
46Territorial Advantage54

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Table

Barclays Premier League

Barclays Premier League
Pos Team P Pts
1 Chelsea 1 3
2 Manchester City 1 3
3 Arsenal 1 3
4 Liverpool 1 3
5 Swansea City 1 3
6 Aston Villa 1 3
7 Hull City 1 3
8 Tottenham Hotspur 1 3
9 Everton 1 1
10 Leicester City 1 1
11 Sunderland 1 1
12 West Bromwich Albion 1 1
13 Crystal Palace 1 0
14 Manchester United 1 0
15 Southampton 1 0
16 Queens Park Rangers 1 0
17 Stoke City 1 0
18 West Ham United 1 0
19 Burnley 1 0
20 Newcastle United 1 0

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