Premier League – Drogba blows chance to beat Spurs

Didier Drogba had a stoppage-time penalty saved as Chelsea drew 1-1 against Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League at White Hart Lane.

The striker had a chance to win the game in the 93rd minute after a crass challenge by Heurelho Gomes on Ramires, but the goalkeeper redeemed himself, diving to his left to stop Drogba’s mediocre spot-kick.

Drogba had earlier come off the bench to score Chelsea’s equaliser and had Gomes to thank, as the Spurs man produced a howler to let the 70th-minute shot elude his grasp.

Roman Pavlyuchenko had given Spurs a 15th-minute lead with a crisp finish, and a draw was probably a fair result.

However, a single point suits neither side, with Chelsea now on a run of five games without a win, and Tottenham looking to establish their credentials as genuine title contenders.

For neutrals, it was the sort of frantic, high-tempo stuff that makes the Premier League so popular.

Yes, there were more misplaced passes than you would see at the Camp Nou, but you hardly had a chance to dwell on them as the two sides tore back and forth with remarkable intensity.

Carlo Ancelotti banished Drogba from his starting line-up following what he called “a technical decision”. Translation: you’re dropped, son.

Drogba was joined on the bench by Frank Lampard, making his long-awaited return from a hernia operation.

Meanwhile Tottenham defender Michael Dawson came back from an ankle complaint, taking the captain’s armband from William Gallas who missed out with an injury of his own.

Chelsea made the better start, pushing forward with real purpose, as Michael Essien thrived as the most attacking member of a midfield trio also comprising Ramires and John Obi Mikel.

Essien tested Gomes with a couple of long-range sighters, and showed a good range of passing.

When the goal came, it was slightly against the run of play, and Chelsea had further reason for complaint as Jermain Defoe strayed offside in the build-up.

Defoe played the ball inside from the right to Pavlyuchenko, who touched it to his left past Terry, and slammed a low left-foot shot inside the near post. It was a classy finish, though Petr Cech seemed to move slowly to close the angle.

Chelsea came back, with Salomon Kalou their major goal threat in Drogba’s absence. He had two headed chances – one nodded to Gomes, one glanced just wide – and slid in to meet a Ramires cross but sent the ball over when anything on target would surely have been a goal.

With Nicolas Anelka struggling to make an impact, Drogba unsurprisingly came on at half-time.

The Ivorian did not make an immediate impact, but slowly got into his stride and brought a showy save from Gomes with a long-range strike.

The Brazilian then did even better, reacting well to an errant Wilson Palacios header and springing to tip the ball over and prevent an own-goal.

But he blotted his copybook badly for the equaliser. First Dawson was at fault, misjudging a high ball and allowing Drogba to turn him.

The striker’s shot was straight at Gomes but somehow the keeper succeeded only in palming the ball weakly over his own head and in. Throw in a Drogba handball that went unpunished and it was a real mess of a goal.

The respective managers threw on Peter Crouch, Robbie Keane and Lampard in an attempt to snatch victory, and it looked like Chelsea would nick it at the last when Gomes barged Ramires over in the box.

Lampard is Chelsea’s regular penalty-taker but Drogba shouldered the responsibility and squandered the chance to fire Chelsea back to the top of the table

Alex Chick / Eurosport

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