Leicester are Premier League champions as Chelsea hold Spurs
Blues fight back to end Tottenham's title hopes and confirm the greatest fairytale in modern football
Chelsea 2 Tottenham 2
It was only fitting that in this, the most incredible season in Premier League history, the title was decided in a match of extraordinary drama. The result ended Tottenham's slim chances of overhauling Leicester in the race to be crowned Premier League champions, and so late on Monday night the footballing world saluted the Foxes and what Gianni Infantino, president of Fifa, described as their "beautiful story".
The team who narrowly avoided relegation last season and started this season as 5,000-1 outsiders wake this morning - perhaps with a thick head or two - as kings of English football. "I'm so proud," said manager Claudio Ranieri, who spent the day in Italy, taking his 96-year-old mother to lunch. "I'm happy for my players, for the chairman, for the staff at Leicester City, all our fans and the Leicester community. It's an amazing feeling and I'm so happy for everyone."
Leicester supporters were certainly put through the wringer by Tottenham and Chelsea in a match that contained drama, devilry and a moment of magic that could well win Eden Hazard the Goal of the Season award.
Tottenham arrived at Stamford Bridge, a ground where they last won in 1990, knowing that after Leicester's 1-1 draw at Old Trafford on Sunday, nothing less than victory would keep alive their faint hopes of winning their first top-flight title since 1961.
They began without a hint of nerves, playing the slick, swift football that has characterised their season under Mauricio Pochettino, and inevitably it was Harry Kane who gave them the lead on 35 minutes. Timing his run to perfection, Kane beat the Chelsea offside trap as he collected Erik Lamela'a neat pass, rounded Asmir Begovic and rolled the ball into an empty net for his 25th league goal of the season. Son Heung-min doubled the visitors advantage a minute before the break with a low strike and Tottenham turned round at the break seemingly set for a win that would take them to within five points of Leicester.
But goals weren't the only talking point at half-time. An undercurrent of aggression throughout the first-half had erupted into a melee shortly before the break, the spark for which was a clash between Willian and Danny Rose. Pochettino ran onto the pitch in an attempt to defuse the situation but the sight of the Spurs boss trying to separate the pair seemed to inflame the situation. In the ensuing free-for-all television replays showed the fingers of Tottenham midfielder Mousa Dembele's making contact with Diego Costa's eyes.
The second-half was a similar story - a series of confrontations, a flurry of yellow cards and two goals. Both belonged to the Blues, the first came when Gary Cahill fired home from a corner as the Tottenham defence stood and stared, and the second involved a touch of genius from Eden Hazard on 83 minutes. He began the move just inside his own half, surging upfield and then laying the ball off to Deigo Costa. Hazard continued his run, and Costa picked out the perfect pass, so precise that the Belgian was able to strike the ball first time, curling it round the despairing dive off Hugo Lloris and into the top corner of the Tottenham net.
As their dreams of the title disintegrated, so did Tottenham's discipline and the last few minutes were more like a bar-room brawl than a football match. Wild tackles flew in from Harry Kane, Eric Dier and others, and when referee Mark Clattenburg finally blew his whistle all the names of the Spurs players were in his book bar Lloris and Toby Alderweireld.
Tempers boiled over in the tunnel and according to The Sun, Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink was "sent flying" in the scrap. Not that he appeared to mind when he addressed reporters at the post-match press conference. Laughing off the incident as a a bit of 'judo', Hiddink revealed that he had just spoken to Claudio Ranieri on the phone.
"He called and thanked us for what we did in the second half, and I congratulated him for being champion," said Hiddink. "Leicester deserve it. It might not be a surprise anymore but it's a shock for the established clubs that they did so well... there was no tension when they started to smell the title and that's why I think they deserve it."