A spirited second-half display by the visitors earned a draw in the Saturday lunchtime London derby, John Terry levelling after an early Spurs strike.
There was added satisfaction that the point was gained despite the disadvantage of 10 men for the closing stages after Fernando Torres, who was causing the home side plenty of problems, was sent off.
Tottenham took the lead after 18 minutes and looked capable of increasing their advantage but Chelsea rallied well and could have added to Terry’s 64th-minute set-piece goal in the second period but for good saves from Tottenham keeper Hugo Lloris.
There were three changes to the side that began the last league game. David Luiz returned to defence and with Ramires passed fit following a hip strain suffered at Swindon, he moved forward to a wide right position in place of Andre Schurrle.
Frank Lampard returned to midfield alongside John Mikel Obi and Fernando Torres, a Capital One Cup scorer midweek, retained his place up front.
Tottenham were unchanged from their Premier League win at Cardiff.
The main excitement and incident of the afternoon was saved for the second half, with the first period often a cagey affair.
A quickly released pass down the middle towards Eden Hazard threatened to become an early chance but the leaping Belgian couldn’t reach the ball with his outstretched leg. Then Lampard hooked a shot not too far over with only a split-second to have a go after Torres caused Spurs some problems.
At the other end Jan Vertonghen had the chance of a clear header at goal from a free-kick but planted it well wide, and David Luiz had to cover diligently and clear after Ashley Cole lost the ball out on the touchline.
In truth though, it was a messy start to the derby, the referee’s whistle frequently punctuating the action. Both sides then took turns at a minute or two of more controlled possession and the reward, on 18 minutes, came Spurs way.
It was Christian Eriksen in the left-hand channel who made the important advance, then turning the ball inside the box to where Roberto Soldado touched the ball back to Gylfi Sigurdsson. The Icelandic midfielder was able to guide the ball wide of Cech from inside the area to give the home side the lead.
They would have doubled it just two minute later had Branislav Ivanovic not slide in front of Paulinho to turn a cross behind for a corner.
The tempo of the game dipped a little after that which was to Chelsea’s advantage, giving a chance to consolidate. Then a couple of crosses came over from the left, one just too high for John Terry to direct a header.
With seven minutes to go before the interval, Hugo Lloris came a long way to successfully punch clear but Chelsea kept the pressure on. A Hazard shot from outside the box looked on its way to test the Spurs keeper before it deflected off Vertonghen for a corner.
The Spurs central defender later tidied up after a promising Mikel ball into the box bounced off Torres as he tried to bring it under control.
Andros Townsend was booked for a dive, followed into the book by Eriksen for a shirt pull on Oscar before the end of the half, Chelsea’s Brazilian having hit a shot cleanly but straight at the keeper shorty before.
There was a big warning to Chelsea that despite having a foothold in the game in the closing minutes of the half, it was a shaky one when Townsend slipped a pass between two defenders and Paulinho hit the post with a shot from an angle. That was with 44 minutes on the clock and there was time for one Chelsea chance too.
Ramires returned the ball into the area with venom after Lloris had again judged a punch well. Terry won an aerial contest to head cleanly but couldn’t hit the target.
It was no surprise that Mourinho made a change at half-time. Ramires dropped back to play alongside Lampard with Mata coming on to take a position predominantly wide on the right.
On 47 minutes came the best moment of the game for the Blues so far, Torres superbly beating two Spurs players including Vertonghen before looking up and crossing to Oscar at the far post. On the slide, the Brazilian couldn’t make a clean contact.
Torres became Chelsea’s first booking soon after following a foul on Vertonghen near the corner flag. The two remained engaged in a physical duel for the rest of the time they were together on the pitch.
The half was fast becoming the Fernando Torres show with another gliding run by the Spaniard leaving Dawson trailing in his wake, but he couldn’t find the finish and Lloris saved.
Mata had the ball in the net on 56 minutes after Torres had knocked down a long David Luiz pass but was defeated by the offside flag, but it was another sign that Chelsea were having the better of the half. We weren’t having it all our own way and Mousa Dembele had worried the Blues by taking on Ivanovic and crossing menacingly however.
Vertonghen gathered Spurs’ third yellow card for catching Ramires late as Chelsea looked to spring a counter-attack. There was much frustration on the Chelsea bench that the foul had denied the opportunity but we didn’t have to wait long for justice. Hazard sent the free-kick into the area and Terry, who had been supreme in the air at both ends, lost Dawson with his run and headed down and in with Lloris, on this occasion, helpless.
Both sides made changes soon after, Mourinho swapping Schurrle for Hazard with the German asked to play mostly on the left with Mata in a more central position and Oscar right.
Dawson joined the booked players for a trip on Torres and Dembele followed soon after for one on Mata.
Between the two cautions Lloris denied Chelsea a second goal. Torres yet again did splendidly to commit his marker and then lay the ball into the path of Schurrle’s run, but the Spurs keeper was having a good game himself it has to be admitted, and as Schurrle tried to lift the ball over, the Frenchman’s reactions were equal to it.
The moment that had been threatening to come arrived on 81 minutes. The Spurs fans rose to their feet to demand punishment for Torres following another aerial coming together with Vertonghen. After a wait, referee Mike Dean produced the second yellow card that changed the balance of the rest of the game. Replays showed Torres and his team-mates had good cause to feel aggrieved.
Oscar was substituted by Cesar Azpilicueta as the Blues reshaped but Spurs moved onto the front foot.
Cech saved from substitute Jermain Defoe and Sigurdsson went close with an effort from long range but anything less than a point from this visit to the Lane would have been harsh on the Blues.
Chelsea (4-2-3-1):Cech; Ivanovic, D Luiz, Terry (c), Cole; Mikel (Mata 45), Lampard; Ramires, Oscar (Azpilicueta 81), Hazard (Schurrle 69); Torres.
Unused subs Schwarzer, Cahill, Essien, Eto’o.
Scorer Terry 64.
Booked Torres 48.
Sent off Torres 81
Tottenham (4-2-3-1):Lloris; Walker, Dawson, Vertonghen, Naughton;Paulinho,Dembele; Townsend (Chadli 62), Eriksen (Holtby 69), Sigurdsson; Soldado (Defoe 76).
Unused subs Friedel, Chiriches, Lamela, Sandro.
Scorer Sigurdsson 18.
Booked Townsend 42, Eriksen 44, Vertonghen 63, Dawson 74, Dembele 77.
Referee Mike Dean.