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9-man Tottenham beaten by Chelsea in chaotic match and loses EPL’s last undefeated record

LONDON (AP) — Tottenham’s players lost their heads and the remaining unbeaten record in the English Premier League.

A late hat trick by Nicolas Jackson sealed a 4-1 victory for Chelsea in a chaotic London derby on Monday featuring two red cards — to Tottenham defenders Cristian Romero and Destiny Udogie — five disallowed goals and a maverick tactical approach by Spurs manager Ange Postecoglou in his unlikely bid to survive with nine men.

Jackson broke the resistance of Tottenham with his three goals from the 75th minute, settling a frantic game that defied logic at times as hosts survived for a while despite playing a high defensive line following the sending-offs of Romero in the 33rd and Udogie in the 55th.

“It is pretty hard to process,” Postecoglou said. “It’s almost impossible to analyze the game because it just seemed to get out of control.”

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Dejan Kulusevski gave Tottenham a flying start by scoring off a deflected shot in the sixth minute, only for the derby to turn fiery amid a blaze of wild challenges and crazy incidents.

Amidst all the madness, Cole Palmer equalized from the spot after Romero conceded a penalty — and earned a fourth red card in 2 1/2 years at Tottenham — for a dangerous lunge on Argentina teammate Enzo Fernandez.

And when Udogie collected a second yellow card, Tottenham faced an uphill battle to preserve its undefeated start to the season.

Chelsea initially failed to get past Tottenham’s brave but possibly naïve high line but did so eventually to devastating effect. Jackson’s final two goals came deep into stoppage time to clinch a memorable win for visiting manager Mauricio Pochettino on his return to the club he coached from 2014-19 and led to a Champions League final.

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Postecoglou had no regrets regarding his tactics while his team was down to nine men, saying: “It is just who we are. It is who we are and who we will be for as long as I am here.

“If we go down to five men, we will have a crack.”

It left Manchester City, the defending champion, a point clear of second-placed Tottenham after an 11th round of games that saw Liverpool and Arsenal, the other teams in the top four, also fail to win.

The first half, in particular, was mayhem.

Aside from the two goals and the red card to Romero, there were four disallowed goals, game-ending injuries to Tottenham players James Maddison and Micky van de Ven, yellow cards to Postecoglou for complaining and Udogie for a flying two-footed lunge, a free-for-all sparked by a scuffle between Chelsea’s Levi Colwill and Tottenham’s Pape Sarr, and 12 minutes of stoppage time.

Romero also avoided punishment for kicking out at Colwill off the ball, only for the World Cup winner to see red a few minutes later. Along with the four red cards, he has also had 26 yellow cards in his time at Spurs.

The game was reminiscent of the so-called “Battle of the Bridge” between the teams at the end of the 2015-16 season, when Tottenham’s title hopes evaporated at Stamford Bridge.

There was also the denouement of a match between the rivals at the same stadium early last season when respective managers Thomas Tuchel and Antonio Conte pushed each other after failing to shake hands at the final whistle.

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This match will be remembered for what happened on the field, and in particular Postecoglou’s attempt to win the game rather than just hold on for a draw.

“I am very proud of the players,” the Australian coach said. “Right to the end, they were trying to create something for us.

“The players couldn’t give any more than they did. Part of this game is will, effort and determination and they showed that.”

Ultimately, Tottenham will have to sustain its strong start to the season without its two first-choice central defenders for a while, with Udogie also suspended for the trip to Wolverhampton on Saturday and an injury concern to star playmaker Maddison.

It was a first career hat trick for Jackson, a Senegal striker who has had a tough first few months in the league after his summer move from Villarreal.

His finishing ability has often been criticized but he took his goals well, albeit from close range after Chelsea broke the offside trap at will by the end. His hat trick-clinching goal saw him run through on goal from Palmer’s pass, sit down goalkeeper Vicario with a shimmy, and then round him to tap into an empty net.

“This will build his confidence,” Pochettino said of Jackson. “I hope this hat trick allows him to play more relaxed and play with the confidence he needs.”

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