Following the events that had transpired, it was to be expected that there would be some hesitation and uncertainty. People may have wondered and questioned if there was an issue with Nicolas Jackson’s goal, which ultimately gave Chelsea the lead against a nine-man Tottenham team.
Four goals were disallowed by the referees, with the video assistant playing a prominent role. One was for Spurs and three were for Chelsea, although one of those was replaced by a penalty, resulting in Cole Palmer scoring to tie the game at 1-1.
We were left to question if Raheem Sterling had gone past the offside line before passing to Jackson. Or perhaps there was another issue at hand. It was one of those nights where the match seemed to be just as much about the replays at Stockley Park as it was about the intense atmosphere in the stadium from beginning to end.
Mauricio Pochettino’s comeback to Tottenham as the Chelsea coach was a significant moment, but it seemed inevitable that he would steal the spotlight. Surprisingly, the focus shifted quickly and dramatically to other events.
Pochettino could finally rejoice as the VAR overturned Jackson’s goal for a 2-1 lead, but there were still many ups and downs before he could savor his first major victory as Chelsea’s manager. Meanwhile, Ange Postecoglou would have to analyze his first loss in the Premier League as the manager of Spurs.
Spurs’s red cards were for Cristian Romero and Destiny Udogie while they also lost the influential Micky van de Ven and James Maddison to muscle pulls. Yet they fought until the end, showing the personality that has characterised Postecoglou’s reign. It would earn them the gratitude of their fans, who rose to acclaim them and almost something more tangible.
Eric Dier, who had entered the game as a replacement, believed he had scored the tying goal in the 78th minute by powerfully striking the ball into the net from the far post after receiving a free kick. However, VAR once again intervened and determined that Dier was in an offside position.
There were additional events that occurred in the game. Another player, Rodrigo Bentancur, missed a great opportunity with a header from a free-kick taken by Pedro Porro. Pochettino was furious at the lack of defensive organization. In the final moments of the game, Son Heung-min had a chance to score but his shot lacked strength and was saved by Robert Sánchez.
Chelsea would have regretted it if they didn’t win. But in the end, they added two more goals from Jackson to make the scoreline even better. Spurs were weak in defense and Jackson easily scored with assists from Conor Gallagher and Palmer.
After the game ended, Pochettino walked onto the field and the photographers captured the moment when he hugged Son at the center circle. Despite predictions of boos for the Argentinian, there were actually some fans who applauded him when he first appeared on the sidelines. This continued as Spurs staff members greeted him with hugs and kisses.
At first, Pochettino had a different mindset as Spurs dominated the midfield and played with a fast and sharp pace. However, Postecoglou’s team had a chance to score early on, but it was only Kulusevski’s deflected shot off Colwill that found the back of the net. Despite their strong start, the rest of the first half was chaotic and brought them back down to reality.
At the end of the first half, Spurs were no longer in the lead and had lost Romero, Van de Ven, and Maddison. They could have been ahead by two goals in the 13th minute, right after Vicario made a great save from Jackson. Johnson passed the ball low for Son to score, but the Spurs captain was slightly offside according to the VAR lines.
Chelsea became more stable. Udogie managed to avoid receiving a red card in the 18th minute for his tackle on Sterling, as he had both feet off the ground. He only received a yellow card because he did not make contact with the opponent. Tottenham Hotspur had another lucky moment when Sterling scored, but it was disallowed due to handball. The game took a turn after three VAR checks were conducted.
Chelsea believed they tied the score when Moisés Caicedo skillfully scored from a far distance. However, the ball had been accidentally kicked in by Jackson, who was standing in an illegal position. This led to the play going back to the initial stage and the referee, Van de Ven, checking for a potential penalty on Sterling. After reviewing the footage, there was not enough evidence to award a penalty. However, on the following phase and challenge leading up to Caicedo’s shot, Romero aggressively and recklessly tackled his fellow Argentinian teammate, Enzo Fernández.
Romero made his move and scored the equalizing goal, despite the possibility that Vicario could have successfully defended Palmer’s penalty. Although Vicario was able to touch the ball, it ended up in the corner of the net. This silenced Palmer and his teammates in blue, who were celebrating in the South Stand.
Before Gareth Bale made an appearance as the guest during the on-field interval, there were a few notable events. On the 38th minute, Jackson scored a goal, but it was disallowed due to Sterling being offside during the buildup. Postecoglou received a booking for getting upset with the officials, and Reece James was not penalized after a VAR check for potentially elbowing Udogie.
Postecoglou had to make more changes in the 55th minute due to Udogie’s tackle on Sterling, which resulted in no contact with the ball but a lot of contact with the player. The manager shifted to a 4-3-1 formation, with Dier and another substitute, Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, playing in central defence. Despite this, he maintained a risky high defensive line, leaving Chelsea with a chance to capitalize on a through ball.
Jackson attempted a close-range header, but it was unsuccessful. Vicario also prevented a goal from substitute Marc Cucurella in a one-on-one situation. Chelsea had a challenging time, but ultimately succeeded. Pochettino was relieved that they were able to accomplish it.