Chelsea's Demba Ba (C) is challenged by Tottenham Hotspur's Sandro (L) and Kyle Naughton during their English Premier League soccer match at Stamford Bridge in London March 8, 2014. Photo by Stefan Wermuth, Reuters.
LONDON - Chelsea have not lost at home to London rivals Tottenham Hotspur for 24 years and that amazing record never looked in any danger on Saturday as a woeful defensive performance by the visitors saw them thrashed 4-0.
Chelsea jumped a provisional seven points clear at the top of the Premier League after Spurs imploded by conceding all four goals in the last 34 minutes at Stamford Bridge with defensive mistakes playing a part in every one.
Samuel Eto'o put Chelsea ahead after a slip by defender Jan Vertonghen in the 56th, an Eden Hazard penalty four minutes later doubled their lead and two late strikes by substitute Demba Ba helped preserve the hosts' long unbeaten run against Spurs who have not won at Stamford Bridge since February 1990.
Fifth-placed Tottenham played the last half-hour with 10 men after their French defender Younes Kaboul was sent off for bundling Eto'o over in the penalty area with the score at 1-0 and after that there was only one winner.
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho, who has presided over 75 unbeaten home league matches in his two spells in charge of the club, said they stayed calm as Spurs dominated the first half.
"The reality in the first half was that they had control but they didn't scare us and when the opposition has control and don't scare you you are calm and you wait for your best moment of the game because for us the best moment always comes.
"We changed our structure in the second half and our game was more connected," he added.
"You can say the first goal was a mistake by Vertonghen, but the way Eto'o read the mistake was fantastic and the way he put it through the goalkeeper's legs was amazing and after that we had complete control and it was easy."
Although Chelsea are now seven points clear at the top, and nine points ahead of fourth-placed Manchester City who have three games in hand, Mourinho said the title was not guaranteed.
"I would rather be in Manchester City's place. We could win all our last nine games and not win the title if they win their last 12," he said.
Eto'o, who will be 33 on Monday, was a late addition to the starting lineup after Fernando Torres limped off in the warm-up.
He celebrated his 300th career goal by bending over the corner flag like an old man, a nod to controversy about his age after Mourinho made some private comments that were published.
"That was very funny, I understood the joke," said Mourinho who last month said in a recorded off-guard moment that he had no strikers to rely on and joked about Eto'o's real age.
Three minutes later a fine pass from Chelsea captain John Terry found Hazard who squirted the ball to Eto'o. Kaboul tangled with the striker and referee Michael Oliver signalled a penalty which Hazard duly converted.
Kaboul will be suspended from Tottenham's league match against Arsenal in next weekend's North London derby.
Chelsea substitute Ba scored twice in the dying minutes as Tottenham's defence imploded, putting away an Oscar pass for the first and latching on to an ill-conceived headed back pass from Kyle Walker for the second which completed Tottenham's misery.
"Anyone can make a mistake and give away a goal, but we have capitulated too often against the big teams this season and we did it again today and I am massively disappointed," Spurs manager Tim Sherwood told reporters.
"When you are 2-0 down with 10 men against Chelsea you are not going to win the game. But we could have shown more guts and played with more pride."
"You can't legislate for the capitulation - you can't have that," he told Sky Sports.
"Lack of characters, too many of them too nice to each other and you need to show a bit more guts and not want to be someone's mate all the time. They need to drag it out of each other.
"It hurts me and I won't forget about this when we hit the motorway, but some might.
"It's not a penalty and not a sending off but the game was finished after that. You won't finish in the top four if you don't beat top teams. There have been too many blips. The club talks about fourth, wake up."
Tottenham, who remain four points behind fourth-placed Manchester City but have now played three games more, must improve when they face Benfica in the first leg of their Europa League last 16 tie at White Hart Lane next week.
"We've got the Europa League on Thursday and we owe the fans a performance. We let them down again on the big occasion," added Sherwood.
(Additional reporting by Clare Lovell; Editing by Ken Ferris)