Gylfi Sigurdsson's late equaliser earned Tottenham a point at Chelsea, but Spurs missed the chance to climb into the Premier League's top four.
Goals from Oscar and Ramires, either side of Emmanuel Adebayor's finish, looked like they would seal a Champions League spot for Rafael Benitez's side.
But Sigurdsson's strike 10 minutes from the end lifted fifth-placed Spurs to within a point of Arsenal in fourth.
Chelsea remain third and are two points clear of the Gunners.
The battle for the top four
- Aston Villa v Chelsea
- Stoke v Tottenham
- Arsenal v Wigan
- Chelsea v Everton, Newcastle v Arsenal and Tottenham v Sunderland
This was the game in hand that Chelsea and Tottenham had over rivals Arsenal, yet it was a good result for Arsene Wenger's team and it means Spurs' chances are now out of their own hands.
All three contenders now have two games left in their fight for the two remaining Champions League places.
For long periods of a free-flowing game, Chelsea were the superior team and looked capable of picking up the three points that would have all but guaranteed a top-four berth.
Not only did they conjure up two clever goals before the break, but they had several opportunities to put the game out of sight after the interval.
As the game wore on, though, Chelsea tired, perhaps understandably so when playing their 66th game of the season.
And in scoring one superb goal and creating another, Adebayor had an inspired game, during an evening when PFA and Football Writers' Player of the Year Gareth Bale was subdued.
Chelsea were 'too open' - Benitez
Chelsea, who maintained an unbeaten run against Tottenham at Stamford Bridge that stretches back to 1990, began the match at a frantic pace with Juan Mata shooting over twice either side of Chelsea's opener.
When it came after 10 minutes, it was the Spaniard who supplied the corner, with Gary Cahill flicking on for Oscar to head in at the back post.
Spurs probed in the first half too, with Lewis Holtby and Kyle Walker just off target.
With 11 league goals in his last 11 appearances, Bale has been the chief contributor to Tottenham's Champions League ambitions, but he was well marshalled by the Chelsea defence early on.
And Adebayor stepped out the Welshman's shadow after 26 minutes to score a goal which matched some of Bale's superb strikes this season.
The Chelsea defence backed off, in part down to a clever run by Aaron Lennon, but the Togolese player took full advantage by curling his strike deftly into the top corner from 25 yards.
Spurs showed character - Villas-Boas
The hosts' lead was restored seven minutes before the break with another good goal, this time from Ramires, who beat Hugo Lloris with a toe-poke after being played through by Fernando Torres.
Although Torres could not end his Premier League goal drought, the Spanish forward was proving a menace as Chelsea threatened the Spurs goal several times after the break.
The 'Three Amigos' of Mata, Oscar and Eden Hazard were sweeping through the Tottenham midfield but a Ramires slip denied Chelsea a further goal, the Brazilian losing his footing when he was set to shoot.
Given that Chelsea played nine games in April, their energy was admirable and their lead looked comfortable.
But their concentration appeared to dip towards the end and Tottenham stole a hugely valuable point when Benoit Assou-Ekotto fed Adebayor and a smart backheel set up substitute Sigurdsson for a smartly-taken goal.
Bale fired over as Spurs searched for a winner but a draw was still a decent return after Chelsea wasted so many chances.
Full Time The referee blows for the end of the match.
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Cesar Azpilicueta by Emmanuel Adebayor. Gary Cahill restarts play with the free kick.
Gareth Bale shoots direct from the free kick, Hugo Lloris makes a save.
90:00 +0:57 Booking
Booking Nascimento Ramires goes into the book for unsporting behaviour.
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Gareth Bale by Nascimento Ramires.
Clint Dempsey takes a shot. Petr Cech makes a save.
The ball is delivered by Scott Parker.
Yossi Benayoun concedes a free kick for a foul on Emmanuel Adebayor. The free kick is swung in right-footed by Tom Huddlestone.
Yossi Benayoun concedes a free kick for a foul on Benoit Assou-Ekotto. Tom Huddlestone takes the direct free kick.
The ball is swung over by Scott Parker, save by Petr Cech.
The free kick is delivered left-footed by Juan Mata from right channel, clearance made by Michael Dawson.
Booking Gareth Bale booked for unsporting behaviour.
Unfair challenge on Nascimento Ramires by Gareth Bale results in a free kick.
Substitution Yossi Benayoun comes on in place of Emboaba Oscar.
Effort on goal by Gareth Bale from long range goes harmlessly over the bar.
Ashley Cole crosses the ball, clearance made by Jan Vertonghen.
The ball is swung over by Gylfi Sigurdsson, Gareth Bale takes a shot. Blocked by Branislav Ivanovic.
Emmanuel Adebayor is ruled offside. Indirect free kick taken by Ashley Cole.
A cross is delivered by Victor Moses. Emboaba Oscar sends in a cross, save made by Hugo Lloris.
Assist on the goal came from Emmanuel Adebayor.
79:41 Goal scored
Goal! - Gylfi Sigurdsson - Chelsea 2 - 2 Tottenham Gylfi Sigurdsson finds the net with a goal from deep inside the penalty box to the bottom right corner of the goal. Chelsea 2-2 Tottenham.
Strike comes in from David Luiz from the free kick, save made by Hugo Lloris.
Booking Jan Vertonghen booked.
Free kick awarded for a foul by Jan Vertonghen on Fernando Torres.
Emboaba Oscar fouled by Benoit Assou-Ekotto, the ref awards a free kick. Direct free kick taken by David Luiz.
Free kick awarded for a foul by Emmanuel Adebayor on Victor Moses. Ashley Cole takes the free kick.
Corner taken by Tom Huddlestone played to the near post, Fernando Torres manages to make a clearance.
Corner taken right-footed by Tom Huddlestone to the near post, David Luiz manages to make a clearance.
Unfair challenge on Gareth Bale by Victor Moses results in a free kick. Free kick taken by Kyle Walker.
Benoit Assou-Ekotto sends in a cross, clearance made by Gary Cahill.
Clint Dempsey takes a shot. Branislav Ivanovic gets a block in. Corner taken right-footed by Tom Huddlestone from the right by-line, clearance made by Branislav Ivanovic.
The ball is sent over by Tom Huddlestone.
Substitution Eden Hazard goes off and Victor Moses comes on.
Branislav Ivanovic fouled by Emmanuel Adebayor, the ref awards a free kick. Petr Cech restarts play with the free kick.
Substitution Clint Dempsey comes on in place of Lewis Holtby.
Juan Mata crosses the ball.
Unfair challenge on Juan Mata by Lewis Holtby results in a free kick. Direct free kick taken by David Luiz.
Unfair challenge on Eden Hazard by Lewis Holtby results in a free kick. Free kick crossed by Juan Mata.
Benoit Assou-Ekotto fouled by Emboaba Oscar, the ref awards a free kick. Tom Huddlestone crosses the ball, Jan Vertonghen takes a shot from inside the six-yard box clearing the crossbar.
Substitution (Tottenham) makes a substitution, with Gylfi Sigurdsson coming on for Aaron Lennon.
Gareth Bale produces a cross, Branislav Ivanovic makes a clearance. Outswinging corner taken by Tom Huddlestone from the right by-line, David Luiz manages to make a clearance.
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Kyle Walker by Eden Hazard. The free kick is swung in right-footed by Tom Huddlestone, David Luiz manages to make a clearance.
Kyle Walker gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Eden Hazard. Free kick taken by Branislav Ivanovic.
Effort on goal by Eden Hazard from inside the area goes harmlessly over the bar.
The ball is sent over by Cesar Azpilicueta.
Outswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Emboaba Oscar.
Eden Hazard produces a cross, Benoit Assou-Ekotto manages to make a clearance.
David Luiz produces a cross, Fernando Torres takes a shot. Save by Hugo Lloris.
Corner taken left-footed by Juan Mata, Gareth Bale manages to make a clearance.
The ball is crossed by Emboaba Oscar, Scott Parker gets a block in.
Unfair challenge on Cesar Azpilicueta by Gareth Bale results in a free kick. Free kick taken by Gary Cahill.
The offside flag is raised against Emmanuel Adebayor. Free kick taken by Petr Cech.
Inswinging corner taken from the left by-line by Tom Huddlestone, Gary Cahill manages to make a clearance.
Corner taken left-footed by Juan Mata from the right by-line, clearance made by Tom Huddlestone.
A cross is delivered by Emboaba Oscar, clearance by Jan Vertonghen.
Aaron Lennon is ruled offside. Indirect free kick taken by Petr Cech.
The referee gets the second half underway.
45:00 +2:24 Half time
Half Time The players leave the pitch at half time.
Effort on goal by Scott Parker from just outside the penalty area goes harmlessly over the target.
Emboaba Oscar takes a shot. Save by Hugo Lloris.
Effort from the edge of the area by Kyle Walker goes wide of the right-hand upright.
Eden Hazard delivers the ball, save by Hugo Lloris.
The assist for the goal came from Fernando Torres.
38:22 Goal scored
Goal! - Nascimento Ramires - Chelsea 2 - 1 Tottenham Nascimento Ramires gets on the score sheet with a goal from inside the box to the bottom left corner of the goal. Chelsea 2-1 Tottenham.
Effort on goal by Nascimento Ramires from long distance goes over the crossbar.
Foul by Aaron Lennon on Ashley Cole, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by David Luiz.
Emboaba Oscar sends in a cross, clearance by Michael Dawson.
Effort on goal by Emmanuel Adebayor from inside the penalty area goes harmlessly over the bar.
Gareth Bale takes a shot. Blocked by Gary Cahill.
Cesar Azpilicueta has a headed effort at goal from just inside the area that misses to the right of the goal.
Corner taken left-footed by Juan Mata, save by Hugo Lloris.
The ball is sent over by Emboaba Oscar, blocked by Jan Vertonghen.
David Luiz sends in a cross, save made by Hugo Lloris.
Lewis Holtby concedes a free kick for a foul on Nascimento Ramires. Free kick taken by Emboaba Oscar.
Assist on the goal came from Lewis Holtby.
25:34 Goal scored
Goal! - Emmanuel Adebayor - Chelsea 1 - 1 Tottenham A goal is scored by Emmanuel Adebayor from just outside the box to the top right corner of the goal. Chelsea 1-1 Tottenham.
Juan Mata takes the outswinging corner, clearance by Emmanuel Adebayor. Eden Hazard takes a shot. Scott Parker gets a block in.
Eden Hazard takes a shot. Blocked by Michael Dawson.
The ball is crossed by Nascimento Ramires.
Tom Huddlestone is adjudged to have handled the ball. Shot on goal comes in from David Luiz from the free kick, Scott Parker gets a block in.
The ball is sent over by Eden Hazard, Scott Parker makes a clearance.
The ball is crossed by Cesar Azpilicueta, Juan Mata takes a shot from just inside the penalty box which clears the crossbar.
Free kick awarded for a foul by Michael Dawson on Fernando Torres. David Luiz takes the free kick.
A cross is delivered by Nascimento Ramires, Jan Vertonghen makes a clearance. Foul by Michael Dawson on Fernando Torres, free kick awarded. David Luiz restarts play with the free kick.
Assist by Gary Cahill.
10:00 Goal scored
Goal! - Emboaba Oscar - Chelsea 1 - 0 Tottenham Emboaba Oscar finds the back of the net with a headed goal from close in. Chelsea 1-0 Tottenham.
Eden Hazard fouled by Tom Huddlestone, the ref awards a free kick. The ball is swung over by Juan Mata, Branislav Ivanovic takes a shot. Blocked by Jan Vertonghen. Corner taken left-footed by Juan Mata, Gary Cahill takes a shot.
Tom Huddlestone takes a shot. Save made by Petr Cech.
Emboaba Oscar produces a cross, Benoit Assou-Ekotto gets a block in. Shot on goal by Juan Mata from just inside the area goes over the target.
Centre by Gareth Bale, clearance by Ashley Cole.
The ball is delivered by Emmanuel Adebayor, Ashley Cole makes a clearance.
The assistant referee signals for offside against Eden Hazard. Hugo Lloris restarts play with the free kick.
Foul by Jan Vertonghen on Gary Cahill, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Petr Cech.
The assistant referee signals for offside against Fernando Torres. Jan Vertonghen takes the indirect free kick.
The assistant referee signals for offside against Juan Mata. Jan Vertonghen takes the free kick.
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