Chelsea must wait to secure a Champions League return as Tottenham kept their hopes of a top-four finish alive by twice coming from behind to draw 2-2 in Wednesday night's Barclays Premier League clash.
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In a pulsating contest with plenty at stake, Europa League finalists Chelsea deserved their half-time lead courtesy of goals from Oscar and Ramires, either side of an exquisite Emmanuel Adebayor strike.
Tottenham had not won at Stamford Bridge in 23 years but levelled in the 80th minute through substitute Gylfi Sigurdsson to deny Chelsea a seventh successive Premier League home win.
The Blues are now third by two points ahead of Saturday's penultimate match of the campaign at Aston Villa, while Spurs sit one point behind Arsenal, with an inferior goal difference.
While Spurs must rely on their London rivals slipping up in the final two games of the season to secure a top-four finish, Rafael Benitez is close to completing his mission as Chelsea interim boss with a return to the competition the Blues won 12 months ago.
The consequences of missing out on a place in Europe's elite are numerous, with Tottenham facing the prospect of Gareth Bale leaving if they fail to qualify.
Bale's performance did not reach the heights of Eden Hazard and his stoppage-time free-kick did not test Petr Cech.
Chelsea beat the retiring Sir Alex Ferguson's Manchester United on Sunday and much of the pre-match build up focused on management - Chelsea bosses past, present and future.
Benitez added to reports Jose Mourinho is in line to succeed him this summer before Andre Villas-Boas' first return to Stamford Bridge following his sacking 14 months ago.
Prior to kick-off the Tottenham boss shook hands with Chelsea staff and players, including Frank Lampard, who was one of the senior players he felt had undermined him during his short tenure.
Lampard dropped to the bench alongside captain John Terry, who was a substitute for a third straight game.
Chelsea were on top during a frantic opening and took the lead after Tom Huddlestone made an off the ball block on Hazard, who was lively on his return from a calf injury.
Juan Mata's free-kick went out for a corner and the Spaniard's inswinging cross found Gary Cahill, whose header was going wide of the target until an unmarked Oscar turned it in.
Lewis Holtby shot wide from the edge of the area as Spurs attempted to respond, with Chelsea fans taunting their rivals. "You've only got one player," they sang, referring to Bale.
Tottenham were feeding off scraps as Chelsea worked hard on and off the ball in their 66th game of the season, their energy epitomised by Hazard, who won the ball from Holtby and then was influential in an attack seconds later.
Mata lifted a shot over from Cesar Azpilicueta's square ball and Michael Dawson blocked a drilled Hazard shot with his head soon after.
Out of nothing, Spurs levelled as Scott Parker won the ball on the edge of his area and it broke for Adebayor.
The Togo striker ambled forward unopposed as Chelsea's defence appeared preoccupied by Bale peeling away on the right and Adebayor, with time and space as Cahill backed off, unleashed a delicious curling shot into the top corner.
Bale and Adebayor had half chances and Ramires shot over before restoring the lead.
Fernando Torres, back in the starting XI and without his protective face mask, cut in from the right wing, breezed by Huddlestone and fed a ball past Jan Vertonghen and Dawson to the rampaging Ramires, who tucked in.
Kyle Walker and Oscar exchanged shots before the interval and Torres was unable to cleanly connect with crosses from David Luiz and Hazard early in the second period as his wait for a first Premier League goal of 2013 continued.
Hazard fired over and Ramires slipped when Mata played him through one on one as Chelsea kept up the pressure.
Bale ran in to Ashley Cole as he tried to surge into the penalty area, but referee Mike Dean saw no infringement.
Hazard was replaced by Victor Moses 17 minutes from time and immediately went down the tunnel for treatment, hoping his night's work had been enough.
But seven minutes later Spurs were level.
A loose Luiz pass was picked up by Huddlestone, who fed Benoit Assou-Ekotto and the left-back found Adebayor in the area.
Adebayor flicked the ball to Sigurdsson, who found the bottom corner.
Yossi Benayoun's introduction, ahead of Lampard, with six minutes to go frustrated Chelsea fans, who would have been relieved to see Bale's late free-kick go fired straight at Cech as the match ended even.