HomeSportsConte-Tuchel spat highlights feisty London derby as Tottenham steal a point away...

Conte-Tuchel spat highlights feisty London derby as Tottenham steal a point away at Chelsea

Few things in football are as captivating as a last-minute equaliser. Even more so in a derby, and even more so among direct competitors.

Yet, at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, despite Harry Kane’s header scraping a point for Tottenham Hotspur against London rivals Chelsea in the dying moments of the game, the two opposing managers took the headlines at the full-time whistle.

Antonio Conte, the last manager to win the Premier League at Chelsea but now at Spurs, squared up to his counterpart Thomas Tuchel when Spurs equalised to make the game 1-1 in the second half. Both managers were booked by the referee for the scuffle.

Reece James replied quickly to put Chelsea back in the lead, and Tuchel ran across the Stamford Bridge touchline, and a dejected Conte, in celebration. So, as the final whistle blew with Tottenham stealing a draw, the two came to blows again, this time Tuchel being the aggressor amid the customary handshake at the full-time whistle.

Tuchel’s actions, albeit immature in hindsight, were in line with the disappointment felt by his side to let a lead slip twice. Chelsea were the better team for much of the game, with 64% possession and a lion’s share of the chances.

The Blues were effective in the first half, especially after Kalidou Koulibaly’s screaming volley sent them into an early lead. N’Golo Kante, prior to him coming off due to injury, put in a trademark shift in midfield, breaking play up and allowing Chelsea to dictate the rhythm. James, deployed on the right side of a back three as opposed to his usual role at right wing-back, dealt with the threat posed by Heung-min Son by marking him out of the game. Kai Havertz and Mason Mount pressed from the front and provided moments of good chemistry and touch.

But missed opportunities casted a shadow over the home team’s performance. Raheem Sterling squandered a chance at the hour mark, shortly followed by Spurs’ Kane missing an easy chance himself. At 1-1, Havertz missed a sitter from James’ superbly-weighted cross, and at 2-1, substitute Conor Gallagher’s poor decision-making stopped them from doubling their lead.

Conte’s side were second-best for much of the game. Pierre-Emile Hojberg and Rodrigo Bentancur’s midfield partnership looked unconvincing (despite the former’s long-range equaliser), as Chelsea’s wing-backs Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Marc Cucurella moved narrow to overrun them, and left plenty of space to create overlaps down the wings. The North-London team did not threaten until they overloaded Chelsea’s defensive third with the introduction of a fourth attacker in Richarlison.

There were contentious referee decisions – a foul on Havertz and an offside shout for Richarlison – in the buildup to Spurs’ first goal, and their last-minute equaliser followed VAR failing to penalise Cristian Romero for pulling Cucurella’s hair on the pitch.

Ultimately, both managers and their feud will take the headlines. And with that, a largely uneventful match turned into a contentious derby that is likely to be talked about until their next league meeting in February.

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