Tottenham Hotspur’s late push was suppressed by a shaky Chelsea side in a goalless draw at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League.
Harry Redknapp’s side finished the stronger of the two but a draw will not have given either all they wanted, as Roberto di Matteo’s Blues stayed five points behind the visitors from north London.
John Terry returned to the home side’s starting line-up after missing out on the defeat to Manchester City with the after-effects of knee surgery.
Didier Drogba was reinstated ahead of Fernando Torres, but this may be a clue as to what Roberto di Matteo’s team selection will be for the Champions League quarter-final against Benfica next week.
With three games in a short space of time, the veteran legs of the Blues squad will need to be rotated.
An uneventful first 20 minutes was epitomised by Chelsea deploying Ramires out on the right to aid the battle against Gareth Bale for Jose Bosingwa, who many believed could be in for a torrid afternoon against the flying Welsh winger.
The Stamford Bridge crowd were up in arms in the 27th minute as Frank lampard was bundled over by William Gallas when bearing down on Brad Friedel from a Ramires through ball.
Referee Martin Atkinson waved play on but the French defender will be slightly relieved watching the replays as he had missed the ball before collidining with the England international – it would most likely have resulted in a red card if given.
This seemed to energise Chelsea somewhat and led to two minutes of concerted pressure, where only poor control from Daniel Sturridge and Drogba denied good goal scoring opportunities.
However, they were given a scare in the 32nd minute when Boswinga gave the ball away cheaply while in attack and Emmanuel Adebayor did brilliantly to charge past two defenders down the left.
After cutting inside the box, the Togo international crossed too high for Kyle Walker at the back post and was possibly the wrong decision as Luka Modric was waiting unmarked on the edge of the area for the cutback that never came.
A poor game looked to be petering out towards the break but Spurs came tantalisingly close to breaking the deadlock in first half injury time.
A cute pass from Modric put Bale clear in the left of the Chelsea box and his cross was met by Rafael van der Vaart only for Petr Cech to make a fantastic reaction save.
Van der Vaart had a second bite of the cherry but Ashley Cole blocked on the line before Adebayor headed over.
It was a frenetic finish to a subdued half and hopes were raised of some action in the second.
Sturridge should have done better in the 50th minute when Drogba nodded down a long ball into his path but his shot from the left went wide of Friedel’s goal.
However, they were unable to build on this and five minutes later Spurs missed another chance to take the lead.
Lampard was crowded out in midfield before Bale wriggled free in the edge of the box to put Kyle Walker through on the right, but the full-back’s near-post effort crashed into the side netting.
Chelsea came closest to a goal with just over 20 minutes to go, when a Juan Mata free-kick from all of 25yeards crashed against the post.
This brought Spurs to life and Gallas should have done better when heading over from a Modric delivery.
The best chance of the game fell to Adebayor after he was sent clear by a lofted Modric pass but his tame shot after rounding Cech was blocked Gary Cahill.
Tottenham had their heads in their hands again from the resulting corner when Bale’s powerful near-post header smacked against the bar.
The north London side were making all the running as time ran out and Chelsea’s desperation for a win was leaving them open at the back since they had introduced Fernando Torres for Essien.
Bale was finding more and more space as the game wore on but he was unable to capitalise, though he did have a powerful low free-kick saved in the final minute of injury time.
It was an exciting end to a game that didn’t really give either side what they wanted, but both will be content with a point in the circumstances.
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