Mauricio Pochettino proud after Tottenham beat Chelsea for first time at Stamford Bridge since 1990
Tottenham are now eight points ahead of reigning champions, and it is almost certain they will finish as capital’s top team. It is almost as likely that Chelsea will finish outside top four
To paraphrase Prince, Tottenham Hotspur could party like it was 1990. They are the kings of London now.
They had not won at Stamford Bridge since the day after Nelson Mandela was released from prison. Their match-winner that 1990 day - Gary Lineker - is now 57. Now the mantle of the last Spur to deliver victory away at Chelsea has been seized by a 21-year-old player.
Dele Alli delivered a double with colossal consequences.
Tottenham are now eight points ahead of the reigning champions. It is almost certain they will finish as the capital’s top team. It is almost as likely that Chelsea will finish outside the top four. The Europa League beckons for them, a third consecutive year in the Uefa Champions League for Spurs.
“After 28 years it is important to win here,” said manager Mauricio Pochettino, who registered just his second victory in 20 away league games at top-six rivals. “It's a happy day for everyone - fans, players - and we feel very proud.”
The good news extended to an earlier-than-expected return for Harry Kane, three weeks after injuring his ankle. Yet he was subplot, summoned when Spurs had struck three times to turn a deficit into an advantage. Others had compensated for his absence: Christian Eriksen, with a stunning equaliser, and Alli.
The Englishman’s performance level has dipped this season but, besides being a welcome reminder of his talent, it showed he has a capacity to deliver on major occasions. He scored a match-winning double against Chelsea last season. He repeated the feat, marking his 100th Premier League game with his 35th and 36th goals in the division.
“He is a great talent,” his manager said.
His first of the day was outstanding. It was taken beautifully after Alli took a lovely touch to control Eric Dier’s long, straight pass, delivered from his own half.
It illustrated the merits of a midfielder who can run in behind defences. He prodded in his second after Son Heung-min, released by Eriksen, was twice denied by Willy Caballero.
So often such an effective stand-in striker, Son made little impact in the first half. His manager pushed Erik Lamela up front and switched the South Korean to the right wing.
“After the game, it looks a good decision,” said Pochettino, who merits much of the credit for the turnaround. From his new station, Son had already drawn one fine save from Caballero before his role in the third goal.
And yet Chelsea had been the better team for much of the first half. They eventually turned control into a goal. They were using their wing-backs to outflank Tottenham and that led to the opener.
Victor Moses emerged unchecked on the right to cross. Hugo Lloris came and did not claim, Alvaro Morata rising above him to head home his first league goal since Boxing Day.
If it suggested a personal winter of discontent is ending, Chelsea’s collective problems were compounded while Spurs impressed as a side. “We showed character at 1-0 down,” Pochettino said.
They illustrated quality, too.
Eriksen has been in outstanding form of late. Even by his standards, a swerving, dipping shot from distance that defeated Caballero, who was deputising for the injured Thibaut Courtois, was something special. It was a goal out of nothing and a goal that was quite something.
From then on, it just got better for Spurs.
Updated: April 1, 2018 09:59 PM