x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Ancelotti's six of the best

A landmark day for Carlo Ancelotti's side as they dominate Tottenham in a 3-0 win that returns them to the top of the Premier League.

LONDON // It was a landmark day for Carlo Ancelotti's side as they dominated this derby showdown to return ominously back to the top of the Premier League. Chelsea made it 11 successive league wins, bettering the mark of 10 set in January 2006 under Jose Mourinho. It was their Italian manager's sixth straight league victory since taking charge. Ashley Cole set them on their way with his second of the season - his best is three - while Didier Drogba made it 99 career goals before going off injured.

Michael Ballack added the other as Tottenham - without a win at Stamford Bridge since 1990 - lost both centre-backs Ledley King and Sebastien Bassong with injuries. Following Manchester City's defeat at United, Chelsea had the only 100 per cent league record left going into this game. And they were in no mood to surrender it, especially against a Spurs side that inflicted their last league defeat back in March.

Jose Bosingwa, returning after missing the Champions League win over Porto through suspension, was particularly lively in the opening stages, revelling in the space afforded him down the right-hand side. It took a sliding challenge from Bassong to divert a dangerous cross from the full-back for a corner as Drogba lurked. The striker, also back after suspension in midweek, was unlucky to be flagged offside in the fifth minute when he raced clear and more frustration for Chelsea swiftly followed when Bosingwa smashed a 20-yard shot that thudded against the woodwork.

Carlo Cudicini, the Spurs keeper, was applauded for his sterling nine-year service at Chelsea but having been preferred in goal to the fit-again Heurelho Gomes, the Italian was determined to deny his former club. As Spurs settled into a rhythm, their midfield began to tick and they created three great chances in a five-minute spell. Tom Huddlestone threaded a superb ball through for Jermain Defoe, but his shot was straight at Petr Cech. It was an opportunity you would have expected the in-form striker to take. Aaron Lennon then teased the home defence before setting up Huddlestone for a fizzing low effort that an unsighted Cech just managed to bundle away.

It was a breathless, spicy start and just lacked a goal. That duly came in the 32nd minute, just seconds after Ballack felt he should have a penalty when he was barged in the back by Vedran Corluka. The referee Howard Webb rejected the pleas and was lenient on some feisty challenges from Defoe and Wilson Palacios that should have earned yellow cards. But any Chelsea disappointment was soon forgotten when Cole put them ahead. Drogba was the creator; his inch-perfect delivery from the right picking out Cole who arrived at the back post and stooped low to head past Cudicini.

With that goal, Chelsea were on top and Drogba was proving a handful. Just two minutes after the restart, he broke down the left and set up Frank Lampard who lamentably did not test Cudicini. The Spurs cause was not helped when a 55th-minute penalty appeal was turned down after Robbie Keane appeared to be clipped by Ricardo Carvalho. Three minutes later Chelsea got their second. Again, Drogba was involved. He forced Cudicini into a save and Lampard turned the ball back for Ballack to slide in.

With just two goals to make it a century, Drogba moved a step closer to that feat in the 63rd minute. Cole pumped a long ball upfield and the Ivory Coast striker got ahead of Corluka. The defender challenged, but the ball deflected away from Cudicini and Drogba had a simple tap-in. @Email:akhan@thenational.ae