Chelsea held 0-0 by Spurs in Premier League

STEVE DOUGLAS AP Sports Writer Published:

LONDON (AP) -- Chelsea was held to a 0-0 draw at home by Tottenham in the Premier League on Saturday, leaving the team in serious danger of missing out on qualification for the lucrative Champions League for the first time in 10 years.

Spurs will be much the happier with a point from a cagey match at Stamford Bridge, the result keeping them five points ahead of Chelsea with eight games remaining.

Both teams hit the goal frame after the break -- Juan Mata from a free kick for Chelsea and Gareth Bale with a powerful header for Spurs -- but it was the visitors who looked the likelier to snatch all three points the longer the match went on.

"It's a good point for us," said Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp, whose team is without a win in five matches. "It keeps us in a decent position as far as qualifying for the Champions League goes. But there will twists and turns to come."

Chelsea has qualified for the Champions League every year since 2003 but this draw, dovetailed with third-place Arsenal's recent resurgence, makes the less-glamorous Europa League a more likely prospect for the club's billionaire Russian owner Roman Abramovich.

After losing 2-1 to Manchester City on Wednesday, the onus was on Chelsea to attack against Spurs but visiting goalkeeper Brad Friedel was hardly threatened.

"It's going to be difficult for us now," interim Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo said. "We were looking to win the game and close the gap. You have to give Spurs credit -- they defended very well."

Spurs stay without a win at Stamford Bridge since 1990, before the Premier League was launched, but could easily have ended that barren streak after finishing the match strongly.

Bale -- kept quiet for most of the game -- struck the bar with a header from a corner, Emmanuel Adebayor had a goalbound shot cleared away by Chelsea defender Gary Cahill after rounding the goalkeeper Petr Cech, before Bale drew a scrambled save from Cech in injury time.

Rafael van der Vaart had earlier wasted a glorious double-chance in first-half injury time, denied first by Cech and then sprawling defender Ashley Cole from close range.

"The longer it went on, you could see us winning," Redknapp said. "They were more happy to hear the final whistle."

The closest Chelsea came to scoring was when Spain playmaker Mata, well shackled by Spurs' midfield throughout, sent a free kick over the wall but against the base of the post in the 73rd minute. By the end, the home side was hanging on.

Despite being still in the Champions League at the quarterfinal stage and also qualifying for the FA Cup semifinals last weekend, failing to finish in the top four would be disastrous both financially and in terms of attracting players in the summer.

"The top four is very important for the club, for the future of the club," Di Matteo said.