Tottenham ended Chelsea’s attempt to make Premier League history with a 14th successive victory as the title pacesetters were well beaten at White Hart Lane.
Spurs moved up to third place as headers from Dele Alli either side of half-time made the difference to leave Chelsea five points ahead of Liverpool in second place.
Alli rose to meet Christian Eriksen’s cross in first-half stoppage time and the same pair combined to put the game out of Chelsea’s reach in the 54th minute.
Eden Hazard had Chelsea’s two best chances in each half but Spurs closed out the victory in comfort to put north London rivals Arsenal out of the top four and leave themselves seven points off the top after their fifth successive league win.
Spurs on the march?
Tottenham’s season was at a tipping point after a disappointing Champions League exit at the group stage and the poor performance in defeat at Manchester United in early December – but they have responded magnificently.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side are gathering impressive momentum, illustrated by the manner in which they overcame a Chelsea side that was starting to carry an air of impregnability.
The 4-1 wins at Southampton and Watford served as a warning that Spurs were approaching the sort of form that carried them close to the title last season and this performance confirmed their growing confidence and stature.
Spurs have recaptured their intensity and energy and when this is bolted on to the quality provided here by the likes of Alli and Eriksen, it makes them a formidable prospect.
Manchester City had already found Spurs too hot to handle at White Hart Lane this season – and Chelsea suffered a similar fate.
Alli delivers the goods
Alli endured a quiet start to the season, perhaps in the aftermath of England’s debacle at Euro 2016 – but the 20-year-old is firing on cylinders now.
Alli’s headed double here made it seven goals his last four games, the third time in succession he has scored twice in a game after doing the same at Southampton and Watford.
Pochettino said before the game that he regarded Alli as “the most important player to emerge in English football in recent years”.
And here the £5m signing from MK Dons backed up his manager’s confident words with a consummate all-round display crowned by the two towering headers which proved decisive.
Alli received a standing ovation when he was replaced in the closing minutes after showing the quality that will make him an integral part of the future of both Spurs and England.
Chelsea still in pole position
Chelsea’s perfectionist manager Antonio Conte and his players will be bitterly disappointed they could not achieve Premier League history with a 14th successive win that would have matched the mark set across the 2001-02 and 2002-03 seasons by Arsenal.
However they remain in prime position in the title race.
They still have a healthy five-point lead over Liverpool in second place and have come a long way since their last Premier League defeat at Arsenal on 24 September, a 3-0 loss that left them eight points adrift of then-leaders Manchester City in eighth place.
Conte has transformed the mood around the team and the club and while their superb run may be at an end, this is a team fully equipped to go the distance in the title race.
“A massive victory” – manager quotes
Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino: “It is a massive victory, a very important three points to reduce the gap at the top of the table. It was a very tough game, we were playing one of the best teams in Europe, so the value of the victory is massive.
“It makes us very proud and we showed character and were competitive. It is one step forward for the team and is important to keep going. Football is about belief.
“We have shown we can challenge for the big things. We are in a good position, Chelsea is in a very good position, but we are fighting to get points and to reduce the gap above us.”
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte: “I saw a game with a great balance. It is not easy to play against Tottenham. But we played with a good personality to create the chances to score a goal, but we could not take them.
“It is strange for us to concede these goals because we are defending well, and they are in a crucial moment. At the end of the first half and then in the second half after we miss the chances to score, but this can happen.
“We must work hard and be pleased with our position in the table, but know this league is tough until the end for the Champions League, for the title.”
Spurs’ proud home record – stats
- Chelsea have not won at White Hart Lane since a 4-2 victory in October 2012 (drawing two and losing two since).
- Tottenham are unbeaten at White Hart Lane this season, winning eight and drawing two; their longest unbeaten start to a Premier League season at home since 2000-01 (13 games).
- Spurs haven’t lost a Premier League London derby at White Hart Lane under Mauricio Pochettino (winning eight and drawing four).
- Tottenham scored with their only two shots on target in this match.
- Dele Alli has equalled his 2015-16 goal tally (10). He has managed to do this in 19 appearances this season, compared to 33 last season.
- Spurs have never lost a Premier League match that Alli has scored in (16 games – winning 12, drawing four).
- The only midfielders to reach 20 Premier League goals quicker than Alli (52 games) are Rafael van der Vaart (44) and Matt Le Tissier (50)
- Only Mesut Ozil (22) has more Premier League assists since the start of 2015-16 than Christian Eriksen (20).
- This was only the fourth occasion this season in the Premier League where Diego Costa has failed to produce a goal or an assist.
Man of the match – Dele Alli
Tottenham play Aston Villa in the FA Cup third round on Sunday before resuming their league campaign at home to West Brom on Saturday 14 January.
Chelsea take on Peterborough in the FA Cup on Sunday before travelling to defending Premier League champions Leicester six days later.