Mour­inho plays down Costa bib in­ci­dent af­ter draw at Tot­ten­ham

The Herald - Sport - - FOOTBALL - STEVE NAILOR AT WHITE HART LANE

TOT­TEN­HAM HOT­SPUR 0 CHELSEA 0

DIEGO COSTA was dropped as Chelsea and Tot­ten­ham played out a goal­less draw which will do lit­tle to kick­start the Bar­clays Premier League cham­pi­ons’ sea­son.

Costa was an un­used sub­sti­tute as Jose Mour­inho lost pa­tience with the striker, but Chelsea’s sec­ond away win of the sea­son re­mained elu­sive as Tot­ten­ham ex­tended their un­beaten run to 13 games.

Both sides had re­turned from lengthy Euro­pean trips, with Spurs boss Mau­ricio Po­chet­tino de­scrib­ing the noon kick-off as a “joke” fol­low­ing Thurs­day night’s 2,500-mile flight from Azer­bai­jan.

Flu­ency was lack­ing in an at-times scrappy con­test which lacked mo­ments of real qual­ity.

Hugo Lloris made a fine save to deny Eden Haz­ard a first goal of the sea­son af­ter Son He­ung-min had spurned the best op­por­tu­nity of the first half fol­low­ing Harry Kane’s cross.

Mour­inho will be grateful for a fourth Premier League clean sheet of the sea­son, par­tic­u­larly in the ab­sence of cap­tain John Terry (an­kle) and at a venue where Chelsea lost 5-3 on New Year’s Day.

Spurs’ un­beaten streak is their long­est since a 14-match run be­tween Novem­ber 1984 and March 1985.

Mour­inho says he left out Costa due to low con­fi­dence af­ter just four goals this sea­son, but the pair ar­gued in Is­rael and the man­ager crit­i­cised the striker’s read­ing of the game on Fri­day.

Re­ports con­tinue that Chelsea are looking for a new striker in Jan­uary – with Kane among those linked – and the spec­u­la­tion is likely to heighten af­ter Costa ap­peared to throw a bib in the di­rec­tion of his man­ager af­ter re­turn­ing from warm­ing up on the touch­line.

How­ever, Mour­inho played down any sug­ges­tion of a fall­ing out. He said: “If he wants to hurt me, it’s not with a bib. I have a good re­la­tion­ship with him.

“I think Diego is very priv­i­leged be­cause he was the last one to be (put) on the bench.

“Ev­ery­body was on the bench. I kept him in the team for all these matches and to­day we thought the best strat­egy to play was this one. We are happy with the decision.”

Chelsea’s at­tack­ing quar­tet of Pe­dro, Wil­lian, Os­car and Haz­ard caused a host of prob­lems for Spurs with their move­ment and trick­ery, but clear-cut chances were hard to come by.

The best early chance was when Os­car crossed for Haz­ard, who headed just over.

Prior to that Tot­ten­ham had come clos­est to tak­ing the lead.

Danny Rose crossed to­wards Kane and Gary Cahill in­ter­vened, in the process catch­ing As­mir Be­govic on the head. Be­govic next saved Kane’s shot, gath­er­ing at the sec­ond at­tempt be­fore Haz­ard went close.

Pe­dro’s ef­fort from the edge of the box de­flected over and Son lost Branislav Ivanovic to meet Kane’s cross from the right, but headed weakly at Be­govic.

Mousa Dem­bele next had a shot stopped and Son fired over, be­fore Os­car hit the side-net­ting af­ter beat­ing Ma­son.

Chelsea were un­der pres­sure which was so nearly re­lieved when Ivanovic’s cross-field pass found Haz­ard, who struck a first-time vol­ley across Lloris, who made a fine save. That was as good as it got in a stale­mate.

Picture: PA

UN­SET­TLED: Diego Costa was an un­used sub­sti­tute and ap­peared to throw a bib in the di­rec­tion of Mour­inho

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