Giroud on target as Chelsea beat Spurs to stay fourth

  • >> Reuters
    Published: 2020-02-23 00:47:10 BdST

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Premier League - Chelsea v Tottenham Hotspur - Stamford Bridge, London, Britain - February 22, 2020 Chelsea's Olivier Giroud in action with Tottenham Hotspur's Toby Alderweireld Action Images via Reuters

Chelsea's Olivier Giroud and Marcos Alonso returned to the starting lineup with stunning effect by grabbing a goal apiece in a crucial 2-1 home win over Tottenham Hotspur in the battle between the London rivals for fourth place on Saturday.

It was only Chelsea's sixth win in 14 home Premier League games this season but it was fully deserved as they remain in fourth, the last Champions league qualification spot, with 44 points from 27 games. Tottenham have 40 points.

Such was Chelsea's dominance that the derby lacked it's usual intensity, although there was a flashpoint when Giovani Lo Celso got away with a dreadful tackle on Chelsea skipper Cesar Azpilicueta -- prompting another VAR controversy.

A poor run of form had dented Chelsea's top-four hopes but from the moment French international Giroud, making his first league start since November, rifled a shot past goalkeeper Hugo Lloris in the 15th minute they were in control.

Alonso, back for only his seventh league start under Frank Lampard, doubled the lead three minutes after the break with a thumping finish to give Chelsea a boost ahead of their Champions League last 16, first leg at home to Bayern Munich on Tuesday.

Tottenham, badly missing injured strikers Harry Kane and Son Heung-min, were lacklustre and a late Antonio Rudiger own goal made the contest look closer than it actually was.

The hosts held on comfortably though as Lampard got the better of his former Chelsea boss Mourinho for the second time this season after a 2-0 win at Spurs in December.

The margin of victory should have been bigger with Tottenham's Lloris making several fine saves and Alonso also curling a free kick against the bar late on.

"It was a shame about the goal at the end because it gave us a few nervous minutes," Lampard said.

"I'm delighted for them both (Giroud and Alonso). They are experienced lads and it's not easy when they are not playing."

LO CELSO CONTROVERSY

Tottenham's three-game winning run in the league ended in disappointing fashion and it could have been worse as Lo Celso should have been dismissed in the second half.

The Argentine midfielder appeared to stamp on the shin of Azpilicueta and although it was apparently missed by referee Michael Oliver it was reviewed by VAR. Yet somehow Lo Celso stayed on the pitch, much to Lampard's amazement.

"I hate to call for red cards but that is a leg breaker," Lampard said. "VAR is here to clear things up but this is another huge question mark."

Tottenham set up to defend and there was an inevitability about the result which means their record at Stamford Bridge now reads just one win in their last 34 visits.

Spurs forward Lucas Moura had an early effort well stopped by Willy Caballero, again preferred by Lampard to world record signing Kepa Arrizabalaga, but they were mainly on the back foot with Mason Mount forcing Lloris into a save soon after.

That it was 33-year-old former Arsenal striker Giroud, linked with a move to Tottenham in January, who opened the scoring was galling for the away fans.

Played through by Jorginho, Giroud's initial shot was saved by the legs of Lloris, Ross Barkley's follow-up bounced up against the woodwork and when the ball came back to the striker his powerful shot beat Lloris at his near post.

Giroud was also involved in the flowing move that resulted in Chelsea's second goal. His flick released Mount who played a low ball towards Barkley, another player recalled by Lampard, and the midfielder helped it to Alonso who did not have to break his stride to smash a low left-foot shot past the diving Lloris.

Mourinho sent on England midfielder Dele Alli, surprisingly left out of the starting lineup, as well as Erik Lamela and it was the Argentine's shot which was deflected in by Rudiger.

It was too little too late for Tottenham though.