Nine-man Tottenham Hotspur misses out on chance to go top of the ...

7 Nov 2023

CNN  — 

Five goals, as many overturned or disallowed, two red cards, and 21 minutes of stoppage time: those are just some of the numbers behind what was a wild and chaotic English Premier League game between Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea.

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The stats hardly do justice to the drama that unfolded at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Monday night as the home side, playing with nine men for much of the game, missed out on the chance to go top of the league table.

Sky Sports’ Gary Neville concluded at the end of the game that it had been a “mad, mad night,” while his fellow pundit Jamie Carragher described the match as “absolute box office.”

Nicolas Jackson’s hat-trick eventually saw Chelsea win 4-1 but it was by no means straightforward, even with a two-man advantage after Cristian Romero and Destiny Udogie had been sent off.

Spurs battled hard and deployed a seven-man high line in defense, which appeared to perplex Chelsea until Raheem Sterling got in behind and teed up Jackson to make it 2-1.

The contest, though, was far from over. Eric Dier had an equalizer ruled out for offside – the fifth time that the video assistant referee (VAR) had intervened to chalk off a goal – and Rodgrigo Bentancur and Son Heung-Min both also came close for Spurs.

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However, Chelsea avoided a potentially embarrassing result as Jackson completed his hat-trick, first when he was set up by Conor Gallagher, then when he rounded goalkeeper Guglielmo Vicario.

“It’s almost impossible to analyze the game because it just seemed to get out of control for large parts of it,” Spurs manager Ange Postecoglou told Sky Sports. “You’re left obviously disappointed with the result.

“I’m just really proud of the players’ efforts, they gave everything. That’s the positive we’ll take out of it. We were very close to getting that equalizer a couple of times.”

Ultimately, Spurs paid for their poor discipline. Dejan Kulusevski’s deflected shot had made it 1-0 but things appeared to unravel after Udogie was yellow carded for launching a two-footed tackle at Sterling.

Chelsea looked to have equalized when Sterling bundled the ball into the net less than 15 minutes later, though the goal was ruled out for a handball; soon after, Moisés Caicedo also had a fine strike overturned by VAR for offside.

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However, Romero was retrospectively red carded for a lunge on Enzo Fernández in the buildup to Caicedo’s disallowed goal and Cole Palmer scored the subsequent penalty.

As a breathless first half came to an end following 12 minutes of added time, it was hard to believe that only two goals had been scored.

There was much more drama to come. Udogie was sent off for a second yellow for a sliding challenge on Sterling, and then Chelsea was faced with the prospect of trying to unlock the unusual seven-man high line deployed by Postecoglou.

Eventually, answers came. Jackson scored near-identical goals when Sterling and Gallagher got in behind before the Senegal international wrapped up his hat-trick in the seventh minute of stoppage time.

“It was an amazing game,” Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino, facing his former club for the first time since leaving Tottenham four years ago, told Sky Sports. “We faced a team that is full of confidence … It’s an important victory for us, three points.”

The result leaves Spurs second in the Premier League table, one point behind reigning champion Manchester City, while Chelsea moves up to 10th.

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