Danny Rose apologised for setting a bad example after frustrations boiled over during Tottenham’s bad-tempered 2-2 draw with Chelsea.
There was certainly no love lost between the two sides at Stamford Bridge as a feisty encounter produced 12 yellow cards as well as two mass brawls, in which both players and coaches were involved.
Tottenham and Chelsea may yet face retrospective action from the Football Association, with Mousa Dembele particularly likely to receive a rebuke after he appeared to claw his fingers down Diego Costa’s face during a skirmish at the end of the first half.
There were several other incidents of petulance during the game and matters came to a head again at the full-time whistle when a melee in the tunnel resulted in Chelsea’s interim manager Guus Hiddink being pushed to the ground.
Rose, who sparked the first brawl after clashing with Willian and was booked, said he was sorry for how the game may have looked to young viewers.
“It is not nice to see for kids here or kids watching on TV. I apologise if it looked bad on TV,” Rose said.
“It is a London derby. It is to be expected. We wanted to win and they wanted to stop us having any more say in the title race.
“There are no bad words to say about Chelsea. These are the games you want to be part of. It was a great game.”
Erik Lamela appeared to tread deliberately on Cesc Fabregas’ hand, Eric Dier was lucky not to be sent off for a reckless challenge and Costa was also fortunate not to receive punishment after leaning his head into Jan Vertonghen’s face.
The ill-feeling continued after the game as another scrum outside the tunnel saw Hiddink fall to the ground while the likes of Rose, Costa and Vertonghen grappled with each other.
“I couldn’t tell you what happened, it was just handbags being thrown,” Rose said.
“I saw the Chelsea manager fell on the floor. I hope he is alright. People were saying from the bench that he conducted himself like a true gentleman throughout the whole game.
“He did not want any trouble to be started.”
Chelsea had made clear before the match they wanted to end Tottenham’s Premier League title challenge and they succeeded as goals from Gary Cahill and Eden Hazard cancelled out earlier strikes from Harry Kane and Son Heung-min.
Hazard scored to win the Blues the title last season and his stunning 83rd-minute finish this time ensured Leicester were crowned champions, with the Foxes now seven points clear with two games left.
“There are going to be tackles and tempers flaring. That is football,” Spurs striker Harry Kane said.
“We probably lost control a little bit. We had to be a bit more patient. But we are proud of each other. We fought for each other and that is what a good team does.
“We have got to learn from it and go again next season.”
The draw does mean Tottenham have all-but secured at least a third place finish and with Champions League football to come next season, Kane insists this young Spurs team will be back.
“This is not going to be a one-off,” Kane said. “People are starting to see that we are a good team and are getting better and better.
“All we can do is keep doing what we are doing, learn from days like today and take that into next season. We are there to fight for the league for many years to come.”