Tottenham Hotspur were denied victory over London rivals Chelsea in a ferocious derby at White Hart Lane.

Second-half substitute Juan Mata provided an inch perfect free-kick for John Terry to level up matters in a game Spurs largely dominated having gone ahead through Gylfi Sigurdsson.

Torres was sent off late in the second half but Spurs were unable to break through The Blues resolute defence in the final ten minutes.

The visitor’s goal, which came during a rare spell of Chelsea pressure, prevented Andre Villas-Boas claiming victory over his former boss Jose Mourinho.

Talk before the game centred around the breakdown in friendship between the pair since they worked together at Porto, but they shared a guarded handshake before the game and exchanged pleasantries at the final whistle.

Spurs had earlier gone ahead through Gylfi Sigurdsson on 19 minutes – a lead they thoroughly deserved after producing some spell-binding football in the opening exchanges.

Eriksen cleverly turned Lampard before feeding the ball to Soldado who cushioned for Sigurdsson before the Icelandic international took a touch past John Terry and slotted beyond Cech.

The Blues were not in the game for much of the first half and resorted to long balls to make up for a lack of creativity in front of the Spurs back four.

Tottenham on the other hand looked every bit the £100million plus team Villas-Boas splashed out on over the summer and deservedly took the lead through their top scorer this season.

Ivanovic prevented Spurs taking a 2-0 lead seconds after the restart when he managed to get to Soldado’s low cross just before Paulinho, who would have had a tap in.

Spurs were proving too much for Chelsea, with Eriksen pulling the strings in the middle and the lively Townsend proving a threat down the right hand side.

Chelsea failed to muster a single shot until the 39th minute and only tested Lloris just before half time when Ocsar’s tame volley from outside the box was hit straight at him.

Walker’s clever back heel on the right touchline sent Townsend on his way and after some quick-footed step overs in front of the back-peddling Terry, he found Paulinho on the inside who rattled his shot onto the outside of the near post from a tight angle.

Terry headed Chelsea’s best chance well over the bar before the break to end a half that was well won by Andre Villas Boas’ team.

Torres’ low cross was just beyond Oscar at the far post after the break and Lloris was quick off his line to deny the Spaniard who was one-on-one after a jinking run on the inside left.

Mata had the ball in the net on 57 minutes but was flagged offside when Torres chested the ball through to him.

The game became heated during a stretched second half, with heavy tackles flying in from both sides and plenty of afters for referee Mike Dean to sort out.

And it was a rash tackle by Vertonghen on Ramires in the middle of the pitch that provided the free-kick for Chelsea’s equaliser.

The visitors carved their way back into the game, largely through the creativity of Mata, who has failed to find favour under Mourinho since his summer return to Stamford Bridge, and Terry’s header was the end product of some good pressing from Mourinho’s team.

But they were dealt a blow after losing Torres with 13 minutes to play to set up a backs-to-the wall finish for the visitors.

Lloris produced a superb sprawling save at 1-1 when he came out to meet Shurlle’s shot under pressure when he was played in behind shortly before Torres was harshly sent off for his second booking.

The Spaniard jumped alongside Jan Vertonghen to head a bouncing ball inside the Spurs half and, after the defender came off worse in the collision, referee Mike Dead ruled Torres had fouled the Belgian.

Replays showed what appeared to be a fair challenge and Torres took an age to leave the pitch to jeers from the Spurs crowd.

Sigurdsson went inches wide with a stunning volley from the edge of the area as Spurs pressed ten-man Chelsea for a winner.

But they failed to break through to leave the game all square and Spurs top of the league table at least until Arsenal play Swansea this evening.

Spurs: Lloris, Walker, Dawson, Vertonghen, Naughton, Paulinho, Dembele, Townsend (Chadli, 62), Eriksen (Holtby, 69), Sigurdsson, Soldado. Subs: Chiriches, Lamela, Defoe, Friedel, Sandro.

Chelsea: Cech, Ivanovic, Luiz, Terry, Cole, Ramires, Mikel (Mata, 45), Lampard, Oscar, Torres, Hazard (Schurrle, 69). Subs: Essien, Schwarzer, Cahill, Azpilicueta, Eto'o.

Referee: Mike Dean (Wirral)

Bookings: Townsend (diving), 42, Eriksen, 45, Torres, 50 + 81, Ivanovic, 57, Vertonghen, 63, Dawson, 75, Dembele, 77.