LONDON: Chelsea kept alive their faint Premier League title hopes as Hakim Ziyech’s superb strike inspired a crucial 2-0 win over Tottenham on Sunday. Ziyech broke the deadlock with his dazzling long-range curler early in the second half at Stamford Bridge.
Thiago Silva’s header killed off Tottenham, who were furious that Harry Kane had a first half goal ruled out for a foul.
Third-placed Chelsea are now 10 points behind leaders Manchester City after ending a damaging run of four league games without a victory.
Chelsea had beaten Tottenham three times already this season without conceding a goal, including knocking their London rivals out of the League Cup semifinals.
Failing to do so for a fourth time would have been a hammer blow to the Blues’ bid to reel in City.
Chelsea won’t play again in the league until mid-February due to the winter break and their involvement in the FIFA Club World Cup.
But, for the first time since Dec. 26 at Aston Villa, Thomas Tuchel’s side tasted league success, giving them a much-needed boost at a time when their season was in danger of going off the rails.
Tottenham’s first defeat in 10 league games since Antonio Conte took charge was a blow to their challenge for a top four finish.
They remain in seventh, two points behind fourth placed Manchester United with two games in hand.
Tottenham fans let themselves down by throwing missiles at Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger in the closing stages.
Conte’s team had arrived at the Bridge on a high after Steven Bergwijn’s stoppage-time double earned a remarkable 3-2 win at Leicester in midweek.
But former Chelsea boss Conte had seen Tottenham swept away by a poor start in their League Cup first leg loss against his old club.
In a bid to neutralize Chelsea’s threat, the Italian switched Tottenham to a back four for the first time in his reign.
Yet Conte must have been fearing the worst after Chelsea made another lively start.
Romelu Lukaku hooked a decent chance over the bar from Mason Mount’s delivery before Callum Hudson-Odoi nodded Ziyech’s cross just wide. Ziyech’s swerving drive forced from 25 yards forced a parried save from Hugo Lloris.
Significantly, Silva, already booked for a foul on Bergwijn, breathed a sigh of relief when another foul on the winger went unpunished. Lukaku’s lack of confidence and touch were painfully clear as the Belgian striker kicked at thin air in an embarrassing failed attempt to convert Mount’s pass from eight yards.
Tottenham thought they had taken the lead against the run of play when Kane fired home from Ryan Sessegnon’s pass.
But referee Paul Tierney controversially disallowed it for a slight push from Kane that sent Silva sprawling theatrically as he tried to track the striker’s run.
Ziyech rubbed salt into Tottenham’s wounds as the Moroccan winger produced a moment of magic in the 47th minute.
Hudson-Odoi led the charge with a driving run and pass to Ziyech, who curled a sublime strike into the far corner from the edge of the area.
Ziyech almost followed his second goal in successive games with a third moments later when his rocket was palmed away by Lloris.
After his role in Kane’s disallowed goal, it was inevitable Silva would haunt Tottenham again and the Brazilian doubled their lead in the 55th minute.
Eric Dier’s foul on Hudson-Odoi conceded a free-kick that was questioned furiously by the Tottenham defender.
From the set-piece, Mount’s delivery was perfect for Silva to glance his header into the far corner.
Lukaku was denied a goal by Lloris’s fine save, but Chelsea had done enough to ease their winter blues.