Jose Mourinho started one period of Chelsea dominance with a 2004 League Cup victory, and 11 years later, in his second tenure with the club, he is hoping to do the same.
The Portuguese’s first trophy since returning to Stamford Bridge in 2013 was just the way he likes them: hard-fought, and virtually without blemish.
Chelsea 2-0 Tottenham
League Cup Final
Wembley Stadium connected by EE
Sunday 1 March 2015
John Terry’s strike and a Kyle Walker own goal on either side of half-time gave a deserved victory, even if Spurs had threatened early on and may have harboured hopes of reprising their victory here against the same opposition seven years ago.
Tottenham’s spirit of 2008 was palpable in the early stages, even if the dark-haired, navy-suited gentleman in their technical area was Mauricio Pochettino and not Juande Ramos.
Ramos’s tenure at White Hart Lane ended later that year, and while Pochettino seems on solid ground, he will want to forget a week in which his side laboured to a draw with West Ham United, bowed out of the Europa League at Fiorentina, and then failed to deliver against bitter rivals.
Spurs may have been buoyed by events leading to kick-off, fielding a full-strength starting lineup while Chelsea’s problems in midfield, triggered by the absence of the influential Nemanja Matic, led to Kurt Zouma being pressed into action in an unfamiliar holding role.
That gave Eriksen some freedom to move and create, although Hugo Lloris was the first keeper to be troubled, diving acrobatically after Branislav Ivanovic’s cross dipped dangerously at the far post.
Harry Kane posed problems to Chelsea, though, and after 10 minutes danced through the blue defence to win a free-kick 25 yards out, otherwise known as Eriksen territory.
The Dane stepped up with purpose and sent a beautifully arcing shot that shuddered off Petr Cech’s crossbar.
Sadly for Tottenham, that was as good as it got.
Chelsea’s Eden Hazard made some threatening incursions down the left flank but he was well shepherded by Kyle Walker and Ryan Mason, who was making his presence felt going forward too.
Diego Costa was a different problem. The striker also liked to pull out to the left and left Spurs hot under the collar when he pressed his hand into Nabil Bentaleb’s face.
Referee Anthony Taylor deemed it accidental, and Spurs tried to take matters into their own hands, Walker giving away a free-kick in a dangerous position and later Eric Dier picking up a yellow card for a heavy challenge on the Spain international.
For all that, Chelsea’s goal came from a move down the lesser-patrolled right wing. Branislav Ivanovic tumbled to win a free-kick.
Willian chipped in a cross that skimmed off Danny Rose’s head, and the ball fell to John Terry whose shot bobbled past Hugo Lloris into the net.
Six of nine previous League Cup winners had come back from a goal down to lift the trophy, but Chelsea were in no mood to add to that statistic, and doubled their lead 10 minutes after the break.
Costa again pulled away on the left and darted into a crowded Spurs penalty area. Walker tried to shepherd him to safety, but lost balance for a split-second.
Costa seized on the moment to fire in a cross-shot which deflected off Walker and wrong-footed Lloris.
Hazard came within a hair’s breadth of adding a third on 63 minutes, when he too found space in the inside left channel and opened his body up to push his shot inches wide of Lloris’s far post.
And the next 15 minutes was a familiar tale as Chelsea stayed resolute and dominated possession.
Spurs pressed on late in the game, and Kane had a late chance to score, weaving through only to be denied by a sprawling Terry.
Ivanovic then came close to putting into his own net, sliding a clearance just wide from a Walker cross.
But Chelsea looked to have the measure of their opponents, and saw out the victory with some ease.
Chelsea (4-1-4-1): 1 Petr Cech; 2 Branislav Ivanovic, 26 John Terry (c), 24 Gary Cahill, 28 Cesar Azpilicueta; 5 Kurt Zouma; 22 Willian, 7 Ramires, 4 Cesc Fabregas, 10 Eden Hazard; 19 Diego Costa.
Substitutes: 23 Juan Cuadrado for Willian 76, 8 Oscar for Fabregas 88, 11 Didier Drogba for Costa 90.
Substitutes not used: 13 Thibaut Courtois, 3 Filipe Luis, 6 Nathan Ake, 18 Loic Remy.
Goals: Terry 45, Walker 56.
Bookings: Willian, Cahill, Cuadrado.
Tottenham Hotspur (4-2-3-1): 1 Hugo Lloris (c); 2 Kyle Walker, 15 Eric Dier, 5 Jan Vertonghen, 3 Danny Rose; 38 Ryan Mason, 42 Nabil Bentaleb; 17 Andros Townsend, 10 Christian Eriksen, 22 Nacer Chadli; 18 Harry Kane.
Substitutes: 19 Mousa Dembele for Townsend 62, 11 Erik Lamela for Mason 71, 9 Roberto Soldado for Chadli 79.
Substitutes not used: 13 Michel Vorm, 21 Federico Fazio, 25 Benjamin Stambouli, 33 Ben Davies.
Bookings: Dier, Bentaleb.
Referee: Anthony Taylor.