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Chelsea moved seven points clear at the top of the Barclays Premier League with a 4-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur.
All four goals came in the second half at Stamford Bridge as Tottenham's hopes of qualifying for the UEFA Champions League were dented. Samuel Eto'o, only starting for Jose Mourinho's men after Fernando Torres sustained a groin injury during the warm-up, capitalised on a slip from Jan Vertonghen to open the scoring in the 56th minute.
The former Barcelona and Inter forward was brought down for a 60th-minute penalty that led to Younes Kaboul being sent off and Eden Hazard converted from the spot. There was worse to come for Tottenham as substitute Demba Ba made the most of further confusion in the visitors' backline with two late goals.
Liverpool and Arsenal, both absent from league action this weekend, are Chelsea's closest challengers having played a game fwer, while Manchester City can regain top spot on goal difference if they win their three matches in hand.
Eto'o was immediately at the heart of the action following his late call-up. Hazard released the striker inside the first 30 seconds and Spurs goalkeeper Hugo Lloris tore out of his area and brought Eto'o down but an offside flag had already been raised.
Lloris's haphazard start continued in the fifth minute when Eto'o returned the favour to Hazard and the playmaker negotiated an attempted tackle from the visiting goalkeeper but shot wide when off balance.
Spurs could have gone ahead in the 14th minute as Nabil Bentaleb collected Emmanuel Adebayor's flick-on, only to drag his shot past the post with team-mates queuing up in the box. Petr Cech got down superbly to beat away a rasping volley from Sandro, while Eto'o drilled beyond the near post after being forced wide by Kaboul, one of four players recalled by Spurs head coach Tim Sherwood.
Mourinho sent on Oscar for the yellow-carded Frank Lampard at the break and there were soon chances at both ends, Kaboul rising highest to head a corner into Cech's arms before Andre Schurrle missed his kick having linked nicely with Eto'o.
Vertonghen also tried his luck with an audacious 30-yard chip but then an error from the left-back allowed Chelsea to open the scoring. The Belgium defender lost his footing and saw his subsequent pass intercepted by Eto'o, who bore down on goal and finished incisively.
Kaboul then bundled Eto'o over as the latter looked to meet Hazard's low cross. Referee Michael Oliver, adjudging the defender to have prevented a clear goalscoring opportunity, produced a red card and Hazard stroked home the spot-kick, sending Lloris the wrong way.
Sherwood finished the game without both starting centre-backs after Michael Dawson departed with a hamstring injury. Sandro fell when trying to retrieve Oscar's right-wing cross, allowing Ba to finish in the 88th minute and the same player capitalised once more when a back header from Kyle Walker sold Lloris short.
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho: “We weren't surprised at the way they came here and played, pressing the ball. The reality was that in the first half they had control but didn't scare us. When you feel they are in control but even when they are in control they are not scaring you, you are calm.
“You wait for your best moment to come, we know the best moment for us always comes, especially at Stamford Bridge. In the second half we changed our structure a bit, the game was better connected, the distance between the defenders and attackers was smaller because Oscar was filling that space.
“You can say the first goal was a mistake but you can also say the way Eto'o read the mistake was fantastic and the way he put it through the legs of Lloris was amazing. After that we were in complete control. It was easy to pass, easy to control, easy for our supporters to enjoy and easy for me to be calm against a very good opponent. To get three points was good.'
'The top four is ours to lose, now we are 13 points from Tottenham and 18 from Man United and Everton. Objective number one, the top four, is in our pocket, now let's go for objective two, which is the top three and automatic qualification for the Champions League.”
Spurs head coach Tim Sherwood: “We aren't going to finish top four if you can't beat the top teams. It ain't going to happen, you're miles away unless you beat the top teams. You have to pick up some points. All right, we beat [Man] United and Everton around us, but you can't rely on rolling over the smaller sides - it does not work out like that. We did all right in patches, but there are too many blips."
"The first goal, anyone can slip and it is a bad error, the second one - the penalty and sending-off - it has gone against us unfortunately and the game has gone after that but it still doesn't legislate for the capitulation. You can't have that."
"We have a game Thursday in the Europa League [v Benfica] and we have to get out there and show a performance. We owe it to the fans - they were fantastic for us today - but we let them down again on the big occasion."
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