Two goals from Marcos Alonso, a superb free-kick in the first half and a strike late in the game, gave the Blues our first victory of the season as we returned to Wembley winning ways.
Having suffered disappointment in the national stadium at the FA Cup final and the Community Shield match, the result this Sunday afternoon was happily a repeat of our visit the last time we played Tottenham here back in April, and this one owed plenty to resolve and determination, and the ability to conjure up a second goal after Spurs appeared to have snatched an equaliser late in the match. Substitute Michy Batshuayi diverted the ball into his own net.
Plenty of credit for this win must go to an unfamiliar-looking backline which was put under plenty of pressure by last season’s Premier League runners up who hit the post when a goal down in the first half, but then survived a Willian strike against the woodwork in the second half which would have put the Blues 2-0 up. Instead it was left to Alonso to send Antonio Conte into a frenetic celebration in his 50th game in charge when he drove the ball under Hugo Lloris five minutes after the leveller, and with 88 minutes on the clock. It secured a first away win versus Spurs for five years.
For this first Premier League game at Wembley Stadium, Conte made a switch in formation from the 3-4-3 that served us so well last season. The back-three defence remained, this time with Andreas Christensen at its centre – the 21-year-old’s first Premier League start. That was because Gary Cahill was suspended and David Luiz was pushed into midfield in a 3-5-2 shape. Tiemoue Bakayoko made his Chelsea debut in the centre ground too.
The front two were Alvaro Morata, another making his first league start in England, and Willian acting as the support striker. With Victor Moses back from suspension, he was able to resume at wing-back so Cesar Azpilicueta, captain for the day in the absence of Cahill, returned to the back three where there was another start for Antonio Rudiger.
After the difficult day and defeat against Burnley last weekend, Conte’s men really needed a good start to our first away outing of the season, even if the venue was as familiar for us as for our opponents.
Moses crossed threateningly inside the first minute and before five were on the clock, Azpilicueta found the head of Morata who had escaped the marking and was well-placed but planted his header a couple of yards wide. That would prove to be our best open-play chance in the first period.
Tottenham came more into the game, with Kane driving a shot which bounced off Thibaut Courtois and Dele Alli missing the target by some distance from a difficult angle.
David Luiz was making his presence felt in these early minutes but Mousa Dembele, with a powerful run, did find space inside the Brazilian for a shot that was probably just clearing the Chelsea crossbar. The fingertips of Courtois made sure.
The Belgian’s opposite number was the next goalkeeper called into action and that was to pick the ball out of the net.
David Luiz was fouled by Alli halfway through the first half and the position was slightly to the right – ideal for a strike at goal by Alonso. The Spaniard’s left foot did not disappoint. Over the wall and into the top right-hand corner, Hugo Lloris had no hope of keeping it out.
The Chelsea fans, at the other end of Wembley from our FA Cup semi-final victory over Spurs back in April, had a distant view of the goal but enjoyed it all the same.
Five minutes after going behind, Spurs twice threatened the Chelsea goal through Kane – Courtois saving the first shot and the second whistling wide of the far post. The North Londoners also appealed for a push on their striker inside our box but referee Anthony Taylor was not interested.
He did however book Rudiger soon after for a foul on Kane but the card count was soon evened when Eric Dier slid through on David Luiz. It caused our player to need treatment and could be compared to the Cahill sending off last Saturday, but this time only a yellow was shown.
David Luiz himself entered the book before half-time when the ref spotted an off-the-ball impeding of Christian Eriksen. The same Spurs player sent the free-kick worryingly deep into the danger zone but the Blues’ lead survived.
We came closer to conceding with 41 minutes on the clock when Kane’s diagonal shot came back off the post and then Ben Davies with a curling shot brought out the best from Courtois. In added time, David Luiz prevented Dier making anything of a cross after Jan Vertonghen had slipped the ball past Moses. Chelsea could be pleased with plenty of our first-half work but will have been happy to hear the whistle go for half-time.
Vertonghen became the second Tottenham player booked five minutes into the second half for clattering into Moses on halfway. Like Dier’s challenge, it could have been punished more strongly. For Chelsea, it was a case of staying disciplined and defending well in the face of Spurs pressure.
Morata made his contribution to that with his aerial strength clearing corners. He was not far from getting his head to the ball at the other end on 67 minutes when the Blues counter-attacked and Moses crossed. Then Kante stealthily won the ball, Willian fed Morata who saw a deflected effort bounce wide. This was Chelsea’s best spell of the second half so far. Moses ran into space and drilled a shot over the bar.
Morata was coming increasingly into the game and was involved in the move that resulted in Willian levelling up the woodwork strike. The Brazilian’s low shot from 25 yards rebounded back into play off a post but fell safe, as had Kane’s in the first half. Back up the other end, Christensen was sharp in blocking a Dembele shot.
With just over 10 minutes to go, Batshuayi and Pedro were introduced for Morata and Willian but having initially done well to powerfully snuff out a Spurs move with his first contribution, Batshuayi was soon cursing his misfortune to be on the wrong end of the own-goal.
Like Chelsea’s opener, the equaliser came from a free-kick – this one conceded out wide by Bakayoko. Eriksen delivered the set-piece towards the near post where Batshuayi’s stooping attempt to cut out the dangerous ball could only send it into the net.
He almost had the chance to make amends instantly after Kante sprung a counter-attack (Kane receiving a delayed booking for a failed attempt to halt the Player of the Year in his tracks), but Dembele made a good challenge on Batshauyi inside the area.
Chelsea would not be denied and kept the attack on. Pedro played a clever ball wide of the defence and suddenly Alonso was in on goal. He kept his cool and smashed the ball past Lloris’s legs, continuing his run to celebrate with the Chelsea fans who this time had a very good view.