Mourinho gets first trophy in second stint with Chelsea in COC final win
LONDON -- Three quick thoughts on Chelsea's 2-0 win over Tottenham in the Capital One Cup final on Sunday at Wembley.
1. Chelsea celebrate first silverware in Mourinho's second spell
The second coming of Jose Mourinho at Chelsea has its first silverware. Ten years after winning this same competition in Cardiff, his first trophy with the club, and with Manchester City's loss at Liverpool hardening their grip on the Premier League title, this was a blue-ribbon day.
Centre-back John Terry, a remnant from that first era, got the first goal, while forward Diego Costa, the standard-bearer of the second generation, got the decider.
It was off the boot of Harry Kane, Chelsea's previous tormentor, that Terry's close-range shot was deflected. Until that, at the stroke of half-time, Tottenham had been the more enterprising side, though their best moment also came from a set piece.
JOSE MOURINHO'S HONOURS LIST
Porto: Primeira Liga (2003, '04), Portuguese Cup (2003), UEFA Cup (2003), Champions League (2004), Portuguese Super Cup (2003)
Chelsea: Premier League (2005, '06), FA Cup (2007), League Cup (2005, '07, '15), Community Shield (2005)
Inter Milan: Serie A (2009, 2010), Italian Cup (2010), Champions League (2010), Italian Super Cup (2008)
Real Madrid: Primera Division (2012), Copa del Rey (2011), Spanish Super Cup (2012)
Kane's chopping run into the heart of Chelsea's defence, a reprise of the play that blew them asunder on New Year's Day in a 5-3 result, was stopped by midfielder Cesc Fabregas' foul. Tottenham midfielder Christian Eriksen's free-kick rattled the bar with Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech beaten.
That came in the 10th minute, as Tottenham found similar gaps to those located on Jan. 1. Centre-back Kurt Zouma was the ersatz anchorman in the absence of suspended defensive midfielder Nemanja Matic and took some time to settle. But gradually, methodically, Chelsea got a grip, first quelling Spurs' attacks and then scoring the goals to take them beyond Tottenham's reach.
Costa has a dual role. As well as goal scorer, he is their antagonist. Within the first half hour, there were flare-ups with Tottenham defender Eric Dier and midfielder Nabil Bentaleb, the second of which saw Costa hand off the Algerian but escape the censure of referee Anthony Taylor. Costa then drew a foul from Dier, which won the Spurs defender a booking, placing his direct opponent on red alert.
When Costa's chance came in the 56th minute, the striker struck with beastly determination. Right-back Kyle Walker, backpedalling furiously as Costa bore down, could only deflect the ball past Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris' despairing dive. That ended the contest.
Spurs, perhaps tired by their midweek exertion, found no answer to a smash-and-grab raid of the style with which Mourinho once made himself a trophy-winning machine. His trophy drought, stretching back to 2012 when he won La Liga and the Supercopa de Espana with Real Madrid, has reached its end, while "my club," as he refers to Chelsea, could celebrate their first trophy since 2013, when they won the Europa League.
In extra time, Didier Drogba, another 2005 veteran, took the field alongside fellow survivors Cech and Terry. Blue was the colour. Probably not for the last time either.
2. Zouma reveals his versatility
Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois' benching came as a surprise, including to the company that made the Capital One Cup final billboards on Wembley Way. Instead, Cech was given the chance to start what could be his last Chelsea cup final, as he is expected to depart this summer. Should Chelsea reach the Champions League final, barring a severe drop in the Belgian's form, the younger man must be favoured to begin in Berlin. Cech duly collected his medal following a clean sheet. Chelsea are blessed by having such a pair of top-grade goalkeepers.
Chelsea win Capital One Cup
- Macintosh: Diego Costa's vintage performance leads Chelsea
- Lythell: Chelsea's defence delivers in COC final
- Brewin: Mourinho gets first trophy in second stint
- Burley: Blues stifle Tottenham
- Capital One Cup: Chelsea 2-0 Tottenham
- Mourinho: Chelsea's win a team effort
- Terry: Capital One Cup win massive for club
- Toe Poke: Mourinho has fun with a water bottle
Zouma's selection as an anchor midfielder was more of a shock. A whisper had gone around Chelsea's training ground this week that Nathan Ake, 20, might be given the chance to replace Matic. Instead, another 20-year-old, with far greater first-team experience, was given the role.
In France a fortnight ago, Zouma was compared favourably to former French centre-back Marcel Desailly, who played both positions in a glittering career that saw him play at AC Milan and Chelsea and win World Cup and European titles.
Here was a chance to further the comparison, though Zouma's positioning at times suggested he was on a steep learning curve, especially against a player like Eriksen, who finds space so readily, or Kane, who forages deep. In terms of distribution, Zouma is no Matic either.
Considering Cahill's recent problems as a defender, it might have been tempting to push him further forward, more out of harm's way, but Zouma's athleticism won him what was often a thankless task. After letting Eriksen escape a few times, Zouma eventually warmed to his task of containment.
In recent weeks, Chelsea defenders have been outscoring their attackers, so putting five defenders on the pitch might have been a new Mourinho ploy. The aim appeared to be solidity first then taking chances when they could. Once Terry scored, it worked like clockwork, with Zouma playing full part. Eriksen and Kane became negligible presences, as Mourinho's gamble delivered.
3. Tottenham's season falls flat
Like Chelsea, Tottenham's goalkeeping selection was headline news. The unfortunate Michel Vorm had played every second of the league cup run only for Lloris to be given the gloves. Further comparisons might be made with Cech, since Lloris may have been handed his last opportunity to play in a final as a Spurs player. It is likely he will be in heavy transfer demand this summer.
Lloris showed his worth early on when clawing a Branislav Ivanovic cross from the skies and then using his feet to volley the ball out of play. Such enterprise was in short supply in the first half, as Fabregas was a mere passenger and the better play was coming from the ambitious running of Kane and winger Andros Townsend.
Being undone by a set piece will have rankled Lloris, even if a pair of deflections meant there was little he could do to stop Terry's goal. That the same fate befell him for Costa's goal will have doubled his pain. Before that, he had not been required for much service, save for a couple of Eden Hazard sighters and an Ivanovic header into the side-netting.
It has been a painful few days for Tottenham, after departing the Europa League in Florence against Fiorentina and then seeing their hopes of a top-four position diminished by a good Premier League weekend for Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United. It might take top-four status to keep Lloris at the club. Perhaps Vorm will get his chance next season.
John Brewin is a staff writer for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @JohnBrewinESPN.