Dele Alli scored twice as Tottenham came from behind to earn a first win at Stamford Bridge in 28 years and damage Chelsea’s hopes of finishing in the Premier League top four.
A win would have moved the Blues to within two points of fourth-placed Tottenham and, after soaking up some Spurs pressure, they took the lead when Alvaro Morata headed in Victor Moses’ cross.
But Tottenham levelled just before the break, as Christian Eriksen hit a fierce, dipping effort from 25 yards that dropped just under the bar and over a stranded Willy Caballero.
Alli then took centre stage in the second half, putting Tottenham ahead just after the hour mark when he produced a sublime first touch to bring Eric Dier’s ball under control before slotting beyond Caballero.
The England midfielder was then well-placed to stab in following a goalmouth scramble after a good run by Son Heung-min.
Victory for Tottenham means they moved eight points clear of Chelsea in fifth with seven games remaining.
Chelsea full-back Marcos Alonso described this London derby as a ‘must-win game’ beforehand and it was hard to disagree, given the consequences for Champions League qualification.
Antonio Conte’s side had won just three of their nine league games in 2018 prior to Tottenham’s visit but they did have history in their favour.
Spurs had a torrid record at Stamford Bridge in the league, losing 18 of their 27 games since a late Gary Lineker header secured a 2-1 win in February 1990.
It looked as if their miserable run would continue as, despite dominating possession, they fell behind after an excellent ball by Antonio Rudiger found Moses wide right and the wing-back delivered a perfect cross for Morata to score his seventh headed goal of the season.
From then, the balance of play swung in Chelsea’s favour as they went on the hunt for a second and Hugo Lloris did well to push away a strong Alonso strike.
But Tottenham are a team with momentum. They had not lost in the Premier League since 16 December, winning all four of their previous fixtures, and Eriksen, so often capable of creating something from nothing, delivered a sucker-punch on the stroke of half time with his excellent dipping strike.
From then on the visitors were in control and Alli’s quick-fire not only put paid to Chelsea’s chances of getting a result but possibly their top-four hopes as well.
They will now need to take at least nine points from the 21 available just to overhaul Tottenham’s current total. Given that they have taken just six points from their previous seven games, it would seem a tall task.
The sight of Harry Kane grimacing in pain while clutching his ankle at Bournemouth on 11 March will have been a devastating one for both Tottenham and England fans.
The striker has been in scintillating form this season with an incredible 39 goals in just 43 games in all competitions, so the prospect of him being out for a lengthy spell had threatened to upset Tottenham’s top-four hopes and England’s World Cup preparations.
However, having avoided any significant damage to his ankle, he has made a recovery quicker than anticipated and was fit enough to be on the Tottenham bench at Chelsea. He was introduced with 16 minutes remaining, as Alli’s two goals allowed him to be eased back into action.
With Tottenham just four points behind second-placed Manchester United and an FA Cup semi-final against Jose Mourinho’s men on the horizon, Spurs would appear to have their form – and their key players back – at just the right time.