Terry rides gauntlet to hold Spurs at bay
An enthralling, end-to-end game at White Hart Lane ended with honours even, deservedly so.
It also finished with John Terry, whose astonishing last-minute clearance of an Emmanuel Adebayor shot had rescued Chelsea, marching across to the visiting fans, thumping the lion on his club shirt, as Spurs supporters vilified him.
It was a strong display by Terry, coming just 24 hours after he was charged by the police with racially abusing Anton Ferdinand.
Ashley Cole was similarly impressive as Chelsea withstood the opening storm from Spurs.
Chelsea grew in strength during this match, Daniel Sturridge cancelling out Adebayor's early goal.
Before Chelsea found their stride, Spurs had started strongly, scoring early through Adebayor and seeming to feed on the adrenalin cascading from the terraces on another memorably atmospheric occasion at The Lane.
The chants were endless, the Spurs fans targeting Terry with all manner of invective.
The visiting contingent loudly backed him, singing: "There's only one England captain.''
Terry, typically, ignored all the barracking in the background. He needed all his concentration dealing with Spurs, who were inspired by Bale in the opening stages.
Even before creating Spurs' goal, Bale had been playing the high-speed raider down the left, leaving Jose Bosingwa choking on his vapour trails. Taxi for Bosingwa.
The poor Portuguese was left standing again when Bale came calling after eight minutes.
Sandro began the move, winning possession with a thunderous tackle on Sturridge. The Brazilian released Bale down the flank and the Welshman was on his bike. Not even Mark Cavendish would have caught him.
Bosingwa certainly couldn't. For all the low, drilled quality of Bale's cross, Chelsea should still have prevented its arrival at the feet of Adebayor.
Petr Cech, seemingly fallible of late, made another mistake, failing to grab the cross. Terry also erred, failing to respond to Adebayor's run, allowing the Spurs striker to exploit Cech's hesitancy and turn the ball in.
Chelsea responded. Cole began to push down the left and Sturridge started to move in menacingly from the right, his progress unhindered by Benoit Assou-Ekotto.
Juan Mata settled, soon unleashing a drive that Brad Friedel pushed out. Sturridge seized on the loose ball but shot over under pressure from Ledley King.
Still Bale threatened on the counter. Bursting through the middle, he wasknocked over by Branislav Ivanovic.
No wonder the Serb's hamstring was weakening. But belief increasingly filled the blue shirts.
Deserved reward soon came for Chelsea. Didier Drogba began the move to the equaliser, playing the ball towards Cole.
Scott Parker, desperately seeking to cut out the ball out, simply knocked iton to the Chelsea player's arm.
Parker screamed for handball but it was accidental. Cole darted on, crossing the ball to the far-post where Sturridge had again escaped the intermittent attentions of Assou-Ekotto. Sturridge is making a habit of appearing in these situations and he calmly swept Chelsea level.
The Blues were now in the mood. Raul Meireles had a shot saved.
Drogba chested the ball down and almost broke the bar with an effort.
Injuries then stalked Chelsea, Ivanovic and then John Obi Mikel limping off. Paulo Ferreira went to right-back, Bosingwa to centre-half while OriolRomeu slotted in to deep midfield. Still Chelsea feared Bale. Ramires was booked for a scissors-tackle on the Welshman.
Another injury then forced a rejig, this time for Spurs. Rafael van der Vaart, who had been playing of Adebayor, felt his hamstring and failed tore-appear for the second half.
Roman Pavlyuchenko strolled on, exchanging high fives with Bale as Spurs lined up in more 4-4-2 mode. With Luka Modric moved to the right, Spurs lost some of their central creativity.
The force remained with Chelsea. Drogba went close and then the Ivory Coast forward teased the ball through the middle for Ramires.
The Brazilian controlled the ball neatly with his left, guiding it into a shooting position. His right foot came down, connecting strongly but Friedel had dashed out to block.
Spurs rallied. Adebayor and Sandro went close with headers as Chelsea's defence dithered. Kyle Walker then made a break,ushering Modric into the box but the Croatian could find only the side-netting.
The tempo remained high but the cutting edge was lacking. Sturridge, profiting from a rare King error, brought a low save from Friedel.
Some controversy ensued as Adebayor, already on a yellow, went in on Terry, leaving the Chelsea fans baying for red. Webb showed leniency.
Andre Villas-Boas made his last change with 14 minutes left, bringing on Fernando Torres.
Frank Lampard, who had been warming up, receiving a few compliments from Spurs fans, sat down in the dug-out and removed his boots.
He watched intently as Chelsea chased a winner, but it was Spurs who had some glorious chances to score. Modric and Pavlyuchenko worked the ball to Bale, who fired over.
Then Sandro strode forward, letting fly, the ball clipping Ramires and looking to drop over Cech. The 'keeper did brilliantly, stretching up a hand to divert the danger.
Still Spurs attacked, William Gallas just failing to score at the near-post.
Chelsea then wasted an even better chance. Ramires had the freedom of White Hart Lane as a free-kick came in. The midfielder was totally unmarked but he steered his header wide.
Bad miss. Then Romeu clubbed a shot just wide.
Torres attempted to win but disappeared down a cul-de-sac.
Back came Spurs, Bale setting up Adebayor, whose shot was somehow kept out by Cech and then Terry. (© Daily Telegraph, London)