Chelsea outmuscle Tottenham to win League Cup
Chelsea overpowered London rivals Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 in the Capital One League Cup final at a rain-swept Wembley on Sunday to lift the first silverware of the English season.
Spurs dominated the early stages but John Terry put Chelsea ahead just before halftime, firing the ball home from close range after Tottenham had failed to deal with a free kick.
The Premier League leaders doubled their lead after 56 minutes when Diego Costa's fierce cross shot took a big deflection off defender Kyle Walker and flew past helpless goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.
Chelsea comfortably dealt with Tottenham's rare forays forward and victory completed a perfect day for them following Manchester City's defeat at Liverpool which left Jose Mourinho's team five points clear at the top of the league table.
Chelsea 2 (Terry 44" Costa 56") Tottenham 0
A goal in each half from John Terry and Diego Costa enabled Chelsea lift the Capital One Cup after a 2-0 win in the final over Tottenham at the Wembley on Sunday.
The first goal came almost at the stroke of halt-time when Terry capitalised from some slopy defending by Spurs to slot home the ball which deflected off Kane to deceive Lloris in goal.
Chelsea's second goal too was a scatchy one with Costa finding the net after his left-footer hit Kyle Walker and caught Lloris wrong-footed.
Spurs made some desperate charge towards the latter half but never really threatened Petr Cech in goal.
90+4 The long whistle goes off and Chelsea have won.
90+2 Drogba gets a few minutes and a loud cheer as he replaces Costa.
90+1. Corner kick but Soldado heads wide.
90" Four minutes added.
88" Ivanovic concedes a corner from an innocuous cross but Spurs fail to capitalise. Time running out for Spurs.
87" Oscar comes in for Fabregas.
87" Terry denies Kane from close blocking his shot in the six-yard box.
83" Azpilicueta playing with a bandaged head is giving it his all to deny Dembele and Kane as Tottenham push desperately for a goal.
78" Last throw of the dice for Tottenham as Roberto Soldado comes in for Chadli.
76" Kane cross has Ivanovic make a poor effort to clear the ball, completely missing it, and in the bargain Chadli too is foxed in front of an open goal.
76" YELLOW! Bentaleb is booked.
74" Willian replaced by Cuadrado. Azpilicueta requires treatment on the sidelines after being hit on the head. There is blood poring from the back of his head, the culprit being Dier.
71" YELLOW! Gary Cahill is cautioned for bringing down Kane.
70" Tottenham make their second change with Erik Lamela replacing Ryan Mason.
69" YELLOW! Willian is booked for a tackle on Rose.
66" Free-kick from Willian to Hazard controls and floats it for Fabregas running in but the Spanish player's header is off the mark.
63" Hazard misses target with a curling shot.
61" Tottenham make a change with Dembele coming in for Townsend.
There is a heavy downpour at Wembley
Chelsea 2 (Terry 44" Costa 56") Tottenham 0
56" GOAL! Costa scores after his shot deflects off Walker and catches Lloris on the wrong foot.
48" Brilliant bicycle kick from Fabregas in the box but Lloris is equal to the task with an excellent save.
46" Cech is tested early in the second half from a Danny Rose cross and the goalkeeper does well to collect it before Kane and Townsend can get to it.
Kyle Walker has been limping around and it's surprising coach Pochettino hasn't replaced him during the break.
Chelsea 1 (Terry 44") Tottenham 0
45+2" Another set-piece, this time from a corner and Cahill almost doubles Chelsea's lead with his header but Lloris dives to his right to make a last-ditch save.
Chelsea 1 (Terry 42") Tottenham 0
44" GOAL! Ivanovic earns a free-kick. Willian lobs it into the box from the right and the defence is caught napping as Terry scores. Not the best of goals as the ball deflects off Kane and deceives Lloris.
39" Mason and Bentaleb are wayward in their shots at the Chelsea goal.
37" The pace hots up as action moves from one end to the other but no one really threatening to score.
33" Chelsea counter attack from a corner and outnumber Spurs' players but Rose comes to the rescue with a timely headed clearance.
30" YELLOW! Eric Dier gets booked for a tackle from behind on Costa.
26" Heated exchanges between Costa and Bentaleb but referee lets the game move on.
22" A superb 50-yard long ball from Willian is directed to Hazard who does well to get it under control but is a bit hasty in his shot selection and messes up.
20" A goal clearance from Lloris is chested-down nicely by Rose at the halfway line and he darts down the Chelsea left flank. His cross however has no takers.
19" Now Rose tackles Hazard and concedes a free-kick a few yards outside the box. Could be dangerous as Willian steps up to take it but shoots it into the wall.
18" Ramires brings down Danny Rose but is lucky to escape a booking.
12" Costa dilly dallies on the left flank and on seeing Hazard relays it for him but the Belgian sends his left footer wide.
10" Kane goes unchecked on the right side but his poor shot is collected by Cech.
8" Great skill from Kane dribbling past three defenders but is brought down just 25 yards from goal. It's a free-kick and Eriksen hits the crossbar even as Cech lunges high and is beaten.
6" Chelsea are all over the Spurs goal and Ivanovic comes close but goalkeeper Lloris makes a timely save.
4" Chelsea apply pressure on Spurs and earn a corner but Zouma heads wide.
1" Hazard wins a free-kick on the left side just outside the Tottenham box. Willian takes it but Terry heads over.
We are just five minutes away from kick-off and both teams are out in the middle..
Both sides are out warming up at a sunlit Wembley and pitch conditions look absolutely perfect. Adding spice to the final came the news that Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho turned down an approach to join Tottenham after leaving the Blues for the first time in September 2007.
Meanwhile, in a surprise move veteran goalkeeper Petr Cech was given the nod by Mourinho ahead of rival Thibaut Courtois. Centre-back Gary Cahill looks set to start in an unfamiliar midfield role in the absence of suspended Nemanja Matic. The 26-year-old Serb is serving a two-match ban for reacting to a high tackle from Ashley Barnes in last weekend's draw with Burnley.
Tottenham's man of the moment and in-form striker Harry Kane, as expected, is restored to the Spurs line-up after starting as a substitute in the Europa League defeat at Fiorentina.
Chelsea XI: Cech, Ivanovic, Zouma, Terry, Azpilicueta, Ramires, Cahill, Fabregas, Willian, Diego Costa, Hazard. Subs: Courtois, Filipe Luis, Ake, Oscar, Cuadrado, Drogba, Remy.
Spurs XI: Lloris, Walker, Dier, Vertonghen, Rose, Bentaleb, Mason, Chadli, Eriksen, Townsend, Kane. Subs: Vorm, Davies, Fazio, Dembele, Stambouli, Lamela, Soldado.
Have won only 2 of their last 5 games
Beat Spurs 3-0 in December
Have won none of their last 4 matches
Scored 5 past the Blues in their clash on New Year's Day
Inspired by their stunning 5-3 demolition of Chelsea on New Year's Day, Tottenham Hotspur will attempt to spoil Jose Mourinho's love affair with the League Cup in Sunday's final.
Chelsea have enjoyed the upper hand over their London rivals in recent years, but a run of 10 matches without defeat came to an abrupt halt at a giddy White Hart Lane on January 1 as a Tottenham side inspired by 21-year-old breakthrough star Harry Kane ran amok.
Victory at Wembley on Sunday will bring Mourinho full circle, as the 2004-05 League Cup was the first trophy he won during his first stint as Chelsea manager, but his Tottenham counterpart Mauricio Pochettino says Spurs will approach the game with no sense of inferiority.
"We got this victory against Chelsea on January 1 and it is important for belief," said the Argentine, who hopes to end a seven-year trophy drought stretching back to Spurs' win over Chelsea in the 2008 League Cup final.
"If you saw the game, our performance was nearly perfect and we played very well. We need to repeat the same performance to come close to winning the trophy.
"It is true there have been many years without a trophy, so this is a very good chance to give the club another."
While Spurs remain in contention for Champions League qualification, their form has diminished since a brace from Kane secured a memorable 2-1 win over derby rivals Arsenal at the start of the month.
Pochettino's side have since gone four games without victory, culminating in Thursday's error-strewn 2-0 loss away to Fiorentina, which curtailed their involvement in the Europa League.
Chelsea's form has also fluctuated, with a 1-1 draw at home to Burnley last weekend enabling Manchester City to trim their lead at the top of the Premier League to five points.
Mourinho's 2005 League Cup final success proved the precursor to glory in the league - the first of back-to-back titles - but he is unwilling to view the competition merely as a catalyst for success elsewhere.
"Since I arrived in July 2013, it's the first time I don't think about the future of this club," said the Portuguese, who is seeking to win the first trophy of his second spell at Stamford Bridge.
"It's the only moment where I just think about the moment. I don't think about the future, I don't think about the consequences.
"I just think about this game. We have a final to win on Sunday and nothing else matters. I don't think it's because you win the cup final you win the league."
Mourinho also tasted League Cup success in 2007, but a year later he was no longer at the helm as a Chelsea side coached by Avram Grant lost 2-1 to a fortuitous extra-time goal by Spurs defender Jonathan Woodgate.
With Aaron Lennon having joined Everton on loan last month, Spurs club captain Younes Kaboul is the only survivor from that day at Wembley in Pochettino's ranks.
From Chelsea's match-day squad, John Terry, John Mikel Obi, Didier Drogba, who scored the opening goal from a free-kick, and goalkeeper Petr Cech, who punched the ball onto Woodgate's head for the decisive goal, all remain.
Cech is expected to lose out to Thibaut Courtois for a place in Chelsea's team, while Nemanja Matic's suspension following his dismissal against Burnley means Ramires is likely to start in central midfield.
Spurs spent an extra day in Florence after Thursday's Europa League defeat, but Pochettino reported no new injury problems.
Kane, Andros Townsend and Kyle Walker will hope to start after being named on the bench at the Stadio Artemio Franchi.
The main selection dilemma facing Pochettino concerns whether to keep faith with Michel Vorm, who has played in goal in all of Spurs' five League Cup games to date, or restore first-choice goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.
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