Canny Chelsea lift Capital One Cup at Spurs’ expense
Jose Mourinho enjoyed another perfect day at Wembley, as Chelsea triumphed 2-0 against Tottenham in the Capital One Cup final, after title rivals Manchester City dropped Premier League points.
In a story all too familiar to observers of the ‘Special One’, Spurs may have had the best of the early bustle, but Mourinho knows how to win. This final was certainly never going to be another 5-3 thriller.
Slowly the Stamford Bridge side seized control of this clash, and the Portuguese coach had set out his stall by fielding Kurt Zouma, in an unfamiliar role in front of centre back pairing Gary Cahill and John Terry, to keep an eye on Christian Eriksen.
The youngster struggled on occasion and Mourinho’s decision initially looked to have shackled the Blues in attack, as Tottenham threatened first.
Men of the moment Harry Kane and Eriksen both showed promising signs of breaking through the Blues backline, with the former attracting swarms of Chelsea defenders and the latter cracking the resulting free kick on to the crossbar with power.
Flying fullbacks Kyle Walker and Danny Rose also provided Mauricio Pochettino’s men with forward thrust, rampaging down the flanks, but an unflustered and savvy Chelsea side bided their time.
Mourinho’s cautious approach was understandable after conceding five at White Hart Lane but, once tenacious captain Terry broke the deadlock before the break, the Blues never looked back.
Spurs had looked vulnerable to Chelsea’s power at set pieces from the outset, and that weakness proved to be key.
Hard working wingman Willian’s first touch had been suspect, but the Brazilian proved his worth with a free kick that fell fortuitously to Terry. The captain pounced to put his boyhood club ahead, but Spurs should certainly have cleared their lines.
Jan Vertonghen accidentally helped Terry’s scuffed strike on it’s way past helpless Hugo Lloris, and it would not be the last time the Blues would benefit from a deflection.
It was fitting that a Stamford Bridge veteran grabbed the opening goal, in what was certainly a vintage Chelsea performance harkening back to the first Mourinho-era.
As influential Eriksen faded after the break, Mourinho’s men emerged with more intent, allowing an until then quiet Cesc Fabregas to help control the flow of the game.
The Catalan schemer and top Chelsea assistant supplied yet again, laying a simple pass on a plate for determined Costa, who tried his luck from a tight angle. Spurs’ luck deserted them once more, as the Spain striker’s speculative shot from an awkward angle found the back of the net after deflecting off unlucky Walker.
Costa will certainly try to claim the goal, and his endeavors highlighted how Tottenham, for all their verve, failed to make the most of their possession and take their chances.
Belief and team spirit were evident as Chelsea survived a late Spurs surge. Having dodged a series of challenges, Kane was denied by diving Terry, and Eriksen was left frustrated as his clubmates failed to connect with a perfectly placed corner.
As they make the short but disappointing journey home, Tottenham and Pochettino can take heart from their progress and ability to go toe-to-toe with the league leaders, but will ultimately rue bad luck and poor marking.
Chelsea, meanwhile, can store their winners medals and move on to the next challenge. With the Premier League and Champions League still up for grabs, the bullish Blues and Mourinho will be aiming to use this silverware as a platform for a new era of dominance.