Giroud on target as Chelsea claim vital win over Tottenham
Olivier Giroud and Marcos Alonso marked rare starts for Chelsea by scoring in a 2-1 win over Tottenham on Saturday, keeping their team in the Premier League’s top four and ensuring a disappointing return to Stamford Bridge for Jose Mourinho.
Chelsea's Olivier Giroud and Marcos Alonso returned to the starting lineup to 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 a timely one as they remain fourth, the last Champions league qualification spot, with 44 points from 27 games, four more than Jose Mourinho's Spurs.
A poor run of form had dented Chelsea's top-four hopes but they controlled the lunchtime derby from the moment Frenchman Giroud, making his first league start since November, rifled a shot past goalkeeper Hugo Lloris in the 15th minute.
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, had offered precious little in attack, but an Antonio Rudiger own goal offered them a late glimmer of hope.
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.
LO CELSO CONTROVERSY
Tottenham, whose three-game winning run in the league ended in disappointing fashion, were lucky not to have Giovani Lo Celso red-carded for a second-half foul on Cesar Azpilicueta.
The incident, in which the Argentine midfielder appeared to stamp on the shin of Azpilicueta, was reviewed by VAR but surprisingly deemed not worthy of a red card.
That was the only real flashpoint in derby that lacked its usual intensity -- largely due to the control Chelsea enjoyed against their rivals, whose record at Stamford Bridge now reads just one win in their last 34 visits.
Tottenham's Lucas Moura did have an early effort well saved by Willy Caballero, again preferred by Lampard to Kepa Arrizabalaga, but they were mainly on the back foot.
That it was 33-year-old former Arsenal striker Giroud, linked with a move to Tottenham in January, who opened the scoring was especially 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 crossbar and the ball came back to Giroud who planted a powerful shot inside Lloris's near post.
Giroud was involved in the flowing move that resulted in Chelsea's second goal. His flick released Mason Mount who played a low ball towards the recalled Barkley and the midfielder helped it to the on-rushing 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.