Harry Kane’s first-half penalty gave Tottenham a slender advantage after the Carabao Cup semi-final first leg at Wembley.
Referee Michael Oliver awarded the 26th minute spot-kick after consulting VAR for offside and Chelsea keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga’s foul on Kane.
Spurs and Chelsea both had chances in a fiercely fought contest and Blues’ manager Maurizio Sarri will feel this tie is still very much alive before the second leg at Stamford Bridge on Thursday, 24 January.
Chelsea hit the woodwork twice in the first half through N’Golo Kante’s near-post flick, and when Spurs keeper Paulo Gazzaniga athletically turned Callum Hudson-Odoi’s deflected cross onto the post.
Andreas Christensen missed a glaring opportunity from six yards after the break while Arrizabalaga also produced a fine save from Kane as this semi-final remains in the balance.
— Franje ☯️ (@Oaksupreme) January 8, 2019
Spurs dig deep for victory
This was not Spurs at their fluent, intense best but they showed character and resilience to dig out what may prove to be a decisive advantage as they seek to reach the final for the first time since they were beaten by Chelsea in 2015.
Manager Mauricio Pochettino has made no secret of the fact he does not place this competition high on his list of priorities and would not even regard success in it as a compelling measure of his team’s progress – he reserves that status for the Premier League and Champions League.
There is still currency in winning a trophy, however, and success here would go some way towards bolstering Pochettino’s reputation as he remains without silverware, for all his good work, and also answer questions about a team that has recently stumbled at the crucial moment.
Kane was the match-winner again as Spurs’ chances were limited but they held out at the back as Chelsea increased the tempo after the break, although Sarri’s side were also left cursing the woodwork on two occasions.
Barkley fails to shine again
It was, however, a disappointing evening for Ross Barkley who has failed to maintain the early-season form which saw him recalled to the England squad.
Barkley endured a lost season last term – sidelined by a serious hamstring injury in his final months at Everton, then failing to win the faith of former manager Antonio Conte in his early career at Chelsea.
He has had more opportunities this season but the early promise has faded and it was no surprise when he was replaced by Mateo Kovacic with 15 minutes left and Chelsea seeking an equaliser.
Barkley was too often on the periphery of the action; spraying the occasional pass that was pleasing on the eye but too much was safe from a player who won a reputation as a risk-taker.
He is at his best in dangerous areas in and around the goal – an area he was seldom seen, although he did send one shot wildly off target in the first half.
Barkley may be playing to instructions but too much of his game is looking conservative instead of being able to do what he does best: get into attacking positions to make things happen.
No-one can question Barkley’s talent but, at 25, he now needs to take the next step and start exerting influence on the important occasions.
It did not happen here and there is no question a player who has been regarded as having outstanding potential for so long must now start to deliver significantly on a regular basis.
Man of the match – Danny Rose (Tottenham)
It’s back to Premier League action for both sides at the weekend. Chelsea host Newcastle on Saturday (kick-off 17:30 GMT), while Tottenham welcome Manchester United to Wembley on Sunday (16:30 GMT).