It was billed as the game that would define a season; more 90 minutes of psychological warfare than an FA Cup semi-final. There was a psychological blow to be struck – of that there appeared little doubt.
Yet, in truth, Chelsea’s 4-2 win over Tottenham left as many questions as it answered.
The scoreline suggested a superiority that never existed. The Blues emerged victors but Spurs - as a bullish Mauricio Pochettino said in his post-match press conference – drew considerable positives.
Yes, Tottenham were naïve at times. The concession of the first two goals were representative of that. Did they still lack the requisite maturity to get results when it really mattered? While that question remains unanswered, Dele Alli and co made a fine case for the defence even in defeat.
Despite never leading, Tottenham were, by most measures, the superior side against an outfit increasingly bearing the hallmarks of champions. They monopolised the ball, and created the better chances.
All the more impressive, the introduction from the bench of Eden Hazard and Diego Costa had little impact on the ebb and flow of the game. Pochettino’s side continued in the ascendancy, pinning Chelsea further and further back.
It was a role Chelsea and the excellent David Luiz were more than willing to accept. They were assured throughout; never ragged. Ostensibly happy to cede possession, confident in the knowledge that, having been gifted the two opening goals, they had the guile to prise more from the league’s most frugal defence.
And the moment of quality came. Tottenham had subdued Chelsea’s talisman since his introduction just past the hour mark. However, elite level sport is defined by the smallest of margins, and offered a second of space as the timepiece hit 75 minutes, Hazard struck the decisive blow; a laser-guided left footer arrowed past Hugo Lloris to once again give the Blues the lead after Harry Kane and Alli had cancelled out Willian's brace.
Read the full article on eurosport.co.uk: Chelsea's victory was convincing but the title race is still on