By Martyn Herman
LONDON (Reuters) -Chelsea’s dominant second-half performance was rewarded with goals for Thiago Silva, N’Golo Kante and Antonio Rudiger in a comfortable 3-0 victory at London rivals Tottenham Hotspur that sent them joint top of the Premier League on Sunday.
The emphatic scoreline did not look likely in the first half as the home side’s energetic display allowed them to more than match Chelsea. But Spurs simply had no answer when the Blues found another couple of gears after the break.
Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel’s decision to replace Mason Mount with Kante at halftime proved a masterstroke as the French midfielder helped the visitors seize control and ease to a victory that sent out an ominous warning in the title race.
Thiago’s header gave Chelsea the lead in the 49th minute and when Kante’s deflected shot crept past Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris shortly after there was no way back for the deflated hosts.
Rudiger’s late strike was enough to give Chelsea an identical record to Liverpool with the two sides on 13 points from five games, both having scored 12 goals and conceded one.
On the day Tottenham mourned the passing of Jimmy Greaves, the club’s greatest-ever scorer, their modern-day goal machine Harry Kane had another disappointing day and is yet to add to his 166 league goals for the club this season.
Spurs faded badly after the interval and their abysmal Premier League record against Chelsea now reads: played 59, won seven, drawn 20, lost 32.
After winning their first three Premier League games of the season 1-0 to lead the table, Totenham have now suffered back-to-back 3-0 reverses and have slipped to seventh.
“I was absolutely not happy with the first 45 minutes,” Tuchel said. “There were individual performances which were great in the first half from (keeper) Kepa and Thiago Silva.
“In general we lacked intent, energy and relentlessness in duels and 50-50 balls. We spoke about it at halftime. In the second half it was a very good performance and a deserved win.”
Tottenham manager Nuno Espirito Santo handed a first league appearance of the season to powerful midfielder Tanguy Ndombele and he impressed in a first half in which the hosts’ energetic football kept Chelsea on the back foot.
Spurs had a series of half chances and wasted a great opportunity when Son Heung-min’s pass released Sergio Reguilon down the left but the Spanish full back could not pick out either of two team mates who were waiting in the area.
Son also had a fleeting chance when picked out by Giovani Lo Celso, yet despite Tottenham’s impressive play there was always the sense that Chelsea had much more in the tank.
And so it proved.
Straight after the restart, Marcos Alonso’s stretching volley forced Lloris into his first save of the match and a couple of minutes later Alonso swung over a corner that Thiago met with a powerful downward header that gave Lloris no chance.
All the belief Spurs had shown suddenly evaporated and they found themselves with a mountain to climb in the 57th minute as Kante’s shot took a cruel deflection off Eric Dier’s foot and dribbled into the corner off the post with Lloris wrong-footed.
Chelsea looked hungry for more goals and they got their third when Timo Werner picked out central defender Rudiger and he dispatched a low shot into the bottom corner.
(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Ken Ferris)