Skip to main content

Arsenal profit as Chelsea held by Spurs in Stamford Bridge draw

May 8, 2013 -- Updated 2342 GMT (0742 HKT)
Gylfi Sigurdsson of Spurs wheels away in celebration after scoring the goal that meant both sides had to settle for a point.
Gylfi Sigurdsson of Spurs wheels away in celebration after scoring the goal that meant both sides had to settle for a point.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Chelsea draw 2-2 at home to Spurs in English Premier League
  • Blues stay third with 69 points, two more than Arsenal with fifth-placed Spurs on 66
  • Real Madrid win keeps Barca's title celebrations on hold

(CNN) -- Despite not kicking a ball, Arsenal were the biggest winners on Wednesday night as Chelsea drew 2-2 with Tottenham Hotspur in a game that football fans almost forgot.

This was the game in hand that both Chelsea and Spurs had long seen as decisive in their bid to finish in the Premier League's top four and so secure Champions League qualification -- but the long-awaited fixture was all but ignored for large parts of Wednesday.

The news earlier in the day that Sir Alex Ferguson was to step down as Manchester United manager after nearly 27 years in the job dominated the minds of football followers who would otherwise have been focusing on a decisive clash in West London.

Read: End of an Era at Manchester United

As if to underline the point, both Chelsea boss Rafa Benitez and Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas found their usual pre-match interviews sidetracked by their thoughts on the Scot, who has amassed 38 trophies during his time with United.

Friedel: 'Bale can be world's best'

Despite their differences over the years, Ferguson's long-standing rival Benitez -- who used to manage United's traditional rivals Liverpool -- was magnanimous in his praise for the 71-year-old.

Manchester United's future after Fergie
How Fergie inspires players
Ferguson's retirement 'a sad day'

"I have always liked to compete against him as a manager," the Spaniard, who may go down in history as the last coach to beat Ferguson following Chelsea's 1-0 win at Old Trafford on Sunday, told Sky Sports television.

"As a person, I wish him health in his retirement and I hope he enjoys his football in a different way."

Meanwhile, the Portuguese Villas-Boas, who was returning to his former club, said the EPL had lost one of its "most charismatic managers" and "the reference point in terms of coaches and being a successful manager".

Shortly after, it was back to work for the pair as both sides continued to work on the final chapters of a thrilling race to see who will secure a coveted Champions League berth for next season.

Hosts Chelsea knew that victory would all but guarantee them a place in the competition, which they won last year, while fifth-placed Spurs needed the three points to climb above great rivals Arsenal to ensure that their Champions League destiny is in their own hands.

Nonetheless, the draw played out best for the Gunners -- their 67 points one better than Spurs' tally -- with Arsenal knowing that victories in their remaining fixtures against Wigan (home) and Newcastle (away) will guarantee them a top-four finish.

Chelsea, who travel to Aston Villa on Saturday before finishing at home against Everton, started the Stamford Bridge clash the brighter, taking an early lead when the Brazilian Oscar converted Gary Cahill's flick-on from a tenth-minute corner.

The Blues continued to pour forward but were undone after 26 minutes when Emmanuel Adebayor, who has found goals hard to come by, ran 50 yards unchallenged before curling home from outside the area for his third Premier League strike of the season.

Read: Who will replace Ferguson?

Ramires restored Chelsea's lead shortly before half-time as he finished off a sweeping move and the same player had the chance to kill off Spurs' Champions League hopes in the second half only to slip at the crucial moment after being teed up by Juan Mata.

With just 10 minutes left, substitute Gylfi Sigurdsson leveled for the visitors after a cute Adebayor backheel but despite a late free-kick from Gareth Bale, Spurs had to settle for a draw that may ultimately seem disappointing.

"It was good to get the point," Villas-Boas said later. "We have to do our job and hope that somebody else slips up. The Premier League is absolutely unpredictable and hopefully it can fall our way."

Will Mourinho replace Ferguson?
2012: Ferguson talks to CNN
Bobby Charlton: Ferguson's best moment
Do Bayern Munich need Pep Guardiola?

His side play at Stoke on Sunday before hosting Sunderland on 19 May, the final day of the EPL season, and are likely to need two victories to sneak into the Champions League places.

Such matters are of course trivial for Ferguson, who steered United to the Premier League title -- the 13th of his reign -- in his final season in charge, so securing yet another crack at Europe's best clubs for the three-time continental champions.

Read: Mourinho hits back at Pepe

In Spain's La Liga, Real Madrid ensured that leaders Barcelona must wait a little while longer before sealing the championship.

Jose Mourinho's side thrashed nine-man Malaga 6-2 at the Bernabeu to reach 80 points for the season, eight behind Barca with only three games now left for Madrid.

Barcelona have a game in hand over their closest rivals (and defending champions), who shared their goals between six players -- with Cristiano Ronaldo, who missed a penalty, inevitably among those on the scoresheet.

Arguably the biggest news of the night came with the publication of the team line-ups, with defender Pepe - who has fallen out with Mourinho - absent from the squad.

"Pepe's absence is the decision of the manager," Raul Albiol, who replaced the Portuguese and opened the scoring, told Canal Plus.

"What we have to do is work and be united. We have three weeks left until the end of the season and we need to work until the end."

Earlier in the evening, Atletico Madrid guaranteed their place in next season's Champions League with a 3-1 win over Celta Vigo - a result that means they will finish the season in the top three.

The same reward for a hard season was achieved by Napoli in Italy, who secured the Serie A runner-up when beating Bologna 3-0.

Edinson Cavani stretched his lead atop the scoring charts to 27 goals as Napoli ensured they can no longer be caught by AC Milan, who sunk Pescara 4-0 to stay in the Champions League hunt.

Massimiliano Allegri's side face a nervous last two games of the season, at home to Roma and away to Siena, as they try to beat Fiorentina to third place in Italy, which guarantees a qualifying place in Europe's premier club competition.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
July 27, 2014 -- Updated 1229 GMT (2029 HKT)
Major League Soccer has snared another big name from England with former Chelsea star Frank Lampard committing his future to New York City FC.
The U.S. government recognizes Kosovo, as do most European states, but getting football's ruling bodies to play ball has proved harder.
June 4, 2014 -- Updated 1504 GMT (2304 HKT)
National heroes don't always belong to one country. Ask France's World Cup hero Patrick Vieira, who is rediscovering his roots.
CNN's John Sinnott on the quiet Cambridge graduate behind Liverpool's resurgent campaign.
May 30, 2014 -- Updated 1519 GMT (2319 HKT)
They are the dispossessed -- stateless, and unrecognized by football's ruling body. But these teams will still play at their own World Cup.
Louis van Gaal will be a perfect fit for Manchester United the club, business and brand, says CNN's Patrick Snell.
May 19, 2014 -- Updated 1924 GMT (0324 HKT)
There's a new force in Spanish football -- and Atletico Madrid's ascendance is sharply contrasted by the fall from power of Barcelona.
May 13, 2014 -- Updated 1206 GMT (2006 HKT)
Rubber bullets, drones and FBI-trained riot police. Welcome to Brazil's 2014 World Cup -- will protests overshadow football's showpiece event?
May 9, 2014 -- Updated 1318 GMT (2118 HKT)
The former England international, who famously kicked a banana off the pitch 27 years ago, says education is the key to tackling racism.
May 7, 2014 -- Updated 1200 GMT (2000 HKT)
Of course not. But former Fulham owner Mohamed Al Fayed seems to think the removal of Michael Jackson's statue was a very "bad" idea.
May 7, 2014 -- Updated 1603 GMT (0003 HKT)
BARCELONA, SPAIN - APRIL 01: Neymar of Barcelona celebrates his goal during the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final first leg match between FC Barcelona and Club Atletico de Madrid at Camp Nou on April 1, 2014 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
The Brazilian star's first season in Spain may have spluttered along, but the 22-year-old says he'll be firing on all cylinders at the World Cup.
April 30, 2014 -- Updated 1715 GMT (0115 HKT)
Former Soviet footballer Sergei Baltacha traveled from the land of the hammer and sickle to join The Tractor Boys and in doing so broke new ground.
April 29, 2014 -- Updated 0931 GMT (1731 HKT)
Brazil's Dani Alves arrived at Barcelona from Sevilla in 2008 and he has gone on to make over 180 appearances for the club.
Villarreal football supporter who threw a banana at Barcelona's Dani Alves during league match handed a life ban by the La Liga club.
ADVERTISEMENT