|Nicolas Jackson dances past Vicario to complete his hattrick at Tottenham Stadium on Monday to end Spurs' unbeaten run. Chelsea won 4-1. (Photo credit: GOAL)|
Chelsea and Tottenham played out arguably the game of the season so far in a tempestuous atmosphere that saw nine yellow cards, two red cards, five disallowed goals, and one unprecedented hattrick for Chelsea’s Nicolas Jackson.
Tottenham held the only surviving unbeaten run in the league before kickoff, and it felt as though they would stroll to victory when Heung Min Son tapped home early, but VAR chalked it off. Dejan Kulusevski opened scoring moments later, and it felt like Spurs would run away with the game.
The game turned on its head almost immediately. Destiny Udogie got lucky after his reckless tackle only earned him a yellow, and then Chelsea had two goals disallowed: the first from Sterling, who appeared to handle the ball before scoring, and then a tight offside cancelled out Moises Caicedo’s goal shortly after.
A tussle in the Spurs area on replay shows Christian Romero cutting through Enzo Fernandes while attempting to clear the ball, and, after a lengthy VAR check, referee Michael Oliver pointed to the spot and sent the Argentine off.
Cole Palmer converted from the spot, and then it went from bad to worse for Spurs from there. Their highly-effective defender Micky Van de Ven was stretchered off with what looked like a hamstring injury, and then James Maddison limped off and was replaced by Pierre Emile Hoijberg.
It took only ten minutes of the second half for Destiny Udogie to be shown his second yellow after another reckless tackle, and Tottenham went down to nine men. Chelsea dominated, but they were either frustrated by the offside flag or Vicario’s smart goalkeeping.
Chelsea made changes, and Mykhailo Mudryk came on and added pace and bite to the attack. Nicolas Jackson scored a simple tap in the 75th minute, but Eric Dier appeared to have clawed Spurs back in with a deft finish off a fine Pedro Porro cross, but VAR chalked it off correctly for offside.
Tottenham defended with their lives and troubled Chelsea on the break, but they were eventually undone by two late goals from Nicolas Jackson. First, he received from Cono Gallagher in stoppage time and another right at the death to make it 4-1.
Tottenham can hold their heads high, but they must review their approach. Playing such a high line when they were two men down affected them badly, and as they have surrendered their unbeaten run, they now have to find ways to play the next three games without any of their first-choice centre backs.