John Terry embellished his status to Chelsea fans as “captain, leader, legend” by scoring the goal that set his side on the way to a 2-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur in the Capital One League Cup final at a rain-sodden Wembley on Sunday.
The former England captain was once again a quite inspirational presence for the club that adores him as he defended like a lion and scored a 45th-minute goal to ease Chelsea nerves before Kyle Walker’s deflected own goal from a Diego Costa shot settled the final in the 56th minute.
It meant an ecstatic Terry lifting the League Cup 10 years since he first did so under Jose Mourinho’s watch — and just as in the last reign of ‘The Special One’, he will be hopeful that it signals an era of supremacy for the west London club.
“That’s the first one, it’s massive. It meant an awful lot to us (to win the League Cup) in 2004-05 in Jose’s first year here,” Terry told Sky Sports.
“That could be the start of something very good but we have to kick on and we have the league to focus on, but it’s a great win today.”
Victory indeed capped a perfect day for Chelsea, which may effectively have seen them claim two trophies, after their nearest Premier League title challengers Manchester City lost at Liverpool.
They are now five points clear with a game in hand and Mourinho, fresh from ending his personal drought of not having won any trophy for three years, still has a treble in his lofty sights with the Champions League also on the agenda.
“The pressure was there before the game, obviously, but that’s what cup finals do to you,” Terry said.
“I thought we played very well, handled the game very well and delighted with the win.
“I think it was fairly even first half, second half I thought we controlled it a little bit better and deserved winners.”
There could be no argument about Chelsea’s superiority against a side who thrashed them on New Year’s Day even though Spurs had the better of a poor first half in which the one moment of quality was Christian Eriksen’s free kick for Spurs that rattled Petr Cech’s bar.
Most interest seemed to stem from Costa’s desire to enjoy a war with everything that moved until Branislav Ivanovic was awarded a free kick just before halftime, skillfully controlling Terry’s aimless hoik towards the touchline and drawing the foul from Nacer Chadli.
From Willian’s free kick, chaos reigned as Danny Rose failed to clear, the ball deflected to Terry and his shot struck Eric Dier to leave Hugo Lloris helpless.
As the rain careered down after the break, Cesc Fabregas found Costa on the left edge of the box and his shot-cum-cross took a cruel deflection off Walker, beating hapless Spurs keeper Lloris on his near post.
Tottenham’s efforts to conjure a response were fairly soggy, with Eden Hazard and Fabregas coming closest to adding to the lead, and even when they did threaten, the immaculate Terry made a superb intervention to block Harry Kane.
Mourinho’s sentimental side then shone through as he brought Didier Drogba on in the 93rd minute, reuniting the three survivors of the 2005 triumph, Drogba, Terry and Cech. (Editing by Ed Osmond)