London - Juan Mata struck twice as Chelsea
maintained their grip on the top of the English Premier League table
with a 4-2 victory Saturday over former manager Andre Villas-Boas'
Tottenham at White Hart Lane.
The match had been billed as an
opportunity for Villas-Boas to hit back at the club who dismissed him
last March after just nine months in charge.
But it was Roberto Di
Matteo, his successor and former assistant at Stamford Bridge, who had
most to savour with the Blues maintaining their unbeaten start to the
Gary Cahill - in at centre-back for Chelsea's suspended
captain John Terry - had given the Blues a first half lead and Mata
struck twice after William Gallas and Jermain Defoe had put the home
Mata then completed the job by teeing up Daniel Sturridge for fourth in second-half injury time.
may have been absent as he started his four-game domestic ban after
being found guilty by the Football Association of racially abusing
Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand last October, but he still
dominated the build-up to this London derby.
Bruce Buck revealed before kick-off that the club had imposed a "very,
very heavy fine" on the player but that Terry would remain the team's
Villas-Boas, meanwhile, had identified Chelsea's defeat
at QPR and the confrontation between Terry and Ferdinand as the moment
his brief reign at Stamford Bridge started to unravel.
Portuguese had maintained personal revenge was not on the agenda ahead
of his first reunion with his former club and the warm handshakes
between Villas-Boas and the Chelsea staff and players suggested
relations between the benches remained warm.
There was enough at
stake, however, without any extra scores to settle with both teams
anxious to build on impressive starts to the campaign and reinforce
their status as title challengers.
Villas-Boas was forced into a
late change when Gareth Bale withdrew after his partner went into
labour, with Tom Huddlestone stepping into the starting line-up while
veteran goalkeeper Brad Friedel was recalled in place of Hugo Lloris.
it was the home side who carved out the first opening of the game when
Gallas miscued a third-minute volley after being picked out by Gylfi
Sigurdsson's free kick.
It was Chelsea who settled more quickly
and Cahill's goal came after a period of steady pressure during which
the home defence had appeared increasingly shaky.
particular had looked unconvincing and it was his poor clearing header
from Eden Hazard's corner that fell invitingly for Cahill to deliver a
stinging volley from the edge of the area that flew in under Friedel's
Tottenham responded immediately with Defoe testing Petr
Cech with a low left foot drive that the keeper failed to hold, forcing
Ashley Cole to hack the ball away before Clint Dempsey got there.
with 30 minutes gone, the hosts' Aaron Lennon delivered a cross to the
far post that fell to Sigurdsson who pulled a left foot shot wide.
saw an angled strike headed off the line by Cole on the stroke of
half-time, but it was Chelsea who were the dominant side during the
And had Mata found the target instead of firing over
from just 10 yards out after Friedel failed to hold his initial shot,
they would have reached the interval with a more comfortable advantage.
responded well after the break with Gallas heading them level following
Huddlestone's free kick in the 46th minute with Defoe making it 2-1 in
the 55th minute with an opportunist finish.
But Chelsea recovered their composure and Mata brought the scores level 10 minutes later after another poor Gallas clearance.
Spaniard then put the visitors ahead with an excellent angled finish in
the 69th minute and Sturridge killed off the game from close range at