A goal from John Terry and a deflected shot from Diego Costa handed Chelsea their first silverware under Jose Mourinho since the manager’s return to Stamford Bridge last summer as the Blues lifted the Capital One Cup in Wembley. A first half free kick from Christian Eriksen thundered off the bar as Spurs had more of the game in the first 45 minutes but failed to create a real goal scoring chance of note as Chelsea were attentive and disciplined at the back until the final whistle.
Jose Mourinho surprised a fair few with his decision to start Kurt Zouma as a defensive midfielder in the absence of Nemanja Matic who was sitting out his first game following a red card against Burnley. The Frenchman however mounted a performance very much alike to the ones of his Serbian teammate and shut out Christian Eriksen for most of the game – something the Blues had not done on their last visit to White Hart Lane. Tottenham would have been encouraged by their victory against the Blues the last time these teams met and would rely on the magic of man-in-form Harry Kane to fire them to glory, however the young English striker was kept out of the game by combined efforts from John Terry and Gary Cahill.
Tottenham came into the game off a disappointing Europa League exit following a defeat on Thursday in Fiorentina, however the Lilywhites surely had plenty of motivation upon entering Sunday afternoon’s game. Things weren’t going sweet for Jose Mourinho’s men either with three draws in their last five games as well as a lot of controversy on and off the pitch. However this was a chance for both sides to forget about their most recent worries and glitches and give their confidence a boost with the first silverware ahead of the season finish.
Despite the heavy rain in the later stages of the game, the fans could certainly not have been disappointed with the action on the pitch which, although very strategical, it didn’t lack in duels, tackles, interesting situations and shots. It was the Spurs skipper Hugo Lloris who was called into action first in the 7th minute as a deflected cross from Ivanovic was dipping awkwardly to the far post and with Terry lurking, the Tottenham keeper did well to punch the ball away for a corner. The resulting delivery from Fabregas found Ivanovic at the back post but he only found the side netting rather the back of the net as has become his custom in recent games.
Spurs had their best chance of all afternoon just three minutes later after Eriksen’s almost perfect free kick from just outside the box thundered against the bar, but Cech probably had it covered. Just a minute later, Harry Kane on a 50 yard sprint used the run of Townsend to create space and send a low shot from outside the box at Cech. Chelsea’s keeper did well to hold the ball with Townsend arriving ready to finish had Cech spilled the ball.
The high tempo to the game continued when a Spurs throw in that resulted in two blocked efforts by men in blue turned into a counter attack lead by Diego Costa down the left side in seconds. The striker teed up Hazard but his left footed curling shot went wide of Lloris’ far post. Costa then exchanged a few words with Dier, Bentaleb and Walker on three different occasions after some aerial duels with the Tottenham players. The next chance came in the 36th minute when Danny Rose found Eriksen in the Chelsea box from the byline. Zouma was straight up against the Dane, who cleverly hit a shot between the Frenchman’s legs in an attempt to catch out Cech at his near post but the Czech International was alert.
Despite Spurs having more of the ball, there was little to separate the two teams until Willian’s free kick from the right flank wasn’t dealt with by the Tottenham defense and fell for John Terry at the edge of the six yard box. The Chelsea captain didn’t think twice and lashed a shot at goal which took a slight deflection off Vertonghen to leave Lloris with no chance and the Blues skipper with his first Cup Final goal. It could have been two for Chelsea just seconds later when yet another set piece, this time a corner by Fabregas, found Ivanovic at the back post, the Serbian headed back across the face of goal and Cahill was denied a goal by a good save from Lloris.
Anyone expecting Chelsea to “park the bus” in the second half was left disappointed as the Blues were the better team in the second half, continuing their solid defensive performance and threatening with attacks of their own. The first half-chance of the second half came courtesy of Hazard who sent a low cross, that took a small deflection off Dier across the face of goal but no one in blue colours was there to pounce. The resulting throw-in from the right was nodded on by Zouma to Fabregas, who attempted a brilliant overhead kick forcing a great stop from Lloris to his left.
In the 56th minute, Fabregas had enough time to find Costa in the box, the striker isolated Walker on the left, took a couple of steps towards goal before unleashing a left footed shot aiming for the far post but a deflection off the toe of the Tottenham defender wrong-footed Lloris and ended in the back of the net. It was the first time Chelsea’s Spanish combination had properly linked up all afternoon but it was enough to give the Blues an assuring two goal lead. Seven minutes later, Eden Hazard almost made his mark on his 150th Chelsea appearance after a short corner from Chelsea was worked to him and he disguised a curling shot behind the defender but sent it just inches wide of the far post.
Spurs were desperately chasing a goal that would dramatise things but Chelsea’s back line lead by John Terry remained an impossible wall for Spurs to break down. Dier tried to connect with Eriksen’s free kick but was offside and took out Azpilicueta in the process giving the Spanish full-back a cut wound on the back of his head after his head made contact with Dier’s knee. In the 76th minute Spurs came closest to a goal all half when Eriksen’s corner was flicked on by Kane to the far post but Lamela could not get there. When Harry Kane was presented with his best opportunity three minutes before time, it was John Terry who flew in with a brilliant last second block to deny the young comet and remind everyone of his defensive class. Despite four minutes of added time, Tottenham could not find a key to open Chelsea up and so it was Mourinho and his men celebrating after the full time whistle at the Wembley pitch, what was the club’s first trophy under Jose Mourinho’s second spell and the first Chelsea silverware for the likes of Courtois, Matic, Zouma, Costa, Fabregas, Luis, Willian and Cuadrado.
It may have only been the Capital One Cup but the importance of the victory may be massive if it is to kickstart Jose Mourinho’s trophy laid stint at Chelsea with the squad he has assembled over the last couple of years. The Portuguese manager refused to compare his first Chelsea team to this one as it was “unfair to compare a team of champions to a team of talents”, but this was the first step for the team of talents to become future champions. The Special One then picked up where he left off as the then Carling Cup was his first and last trophy at Chelsea in 2005 and 2007 respectively.
John Terry continued his rejuvenation under Mourinho and lead Chelsea to his 13th trophy as captain with a brilliant defensive display, marshalling his fellow defending colleagues who were all equally impressive in forming the impenetrable unit we were used to seeing last year, which is surely an encouraging sign ahead of the season finish with Chelsea still having two trophies to fight for.
Tottenham may have lost the final but reaching the final is in itself a great achievement for this young Tottenham side under Mauricio Pochettino. Today they were outdone by Chelsea’s discipline, teamwork, experience and ability to shut out games, but their individual performances were certainly no disappointment. There are many encouraging signs for Tottenham to take from this campaign, even without a golden ending and credit to the team for taking part in such a good final. Their efforts will now be fully focused on a Top 4 finish where they are currently 6 points off 4th placed Manchester United with a game in hand.