LONDON - With a commanding defensive display and his first-ever cup final goal, evergreen captain John Terry ensured Chelsea would not endure another trophyless season.
The 34-year-old Terry lifted the League Cup at Wembley Stadium following a 2-0 victory over Tottenham almost two years after collecting Chelsea's last silverware in the Europa League. Perhaps more significantly, it gave Jose Mourinho the first trophy of his second spell as Chelsea manager.
Terry and goalkeeper Petr Cech were the only players on the Wembley Stadium pitch who also started the League Cup final a decade ago when Mourinho won his first title in England.
"It's difficult for me to live without titles," Mourinho said. "I need to feed myself with titles."
And Terry helped to satisfy Mourinho's hunger. The centre back successfully contained Tottenham throughout the first half and then made the scoring breakthrough in the 45th minute when his strike took a slight deflection off defender Eric Dier.
"We handled the game well and the pressure well," said Terry, whose contract expires at the end of the season.
"I don't see it as my last (visit to Wembley), hopefully there are many more to come for me."
Victory in the first final of the English season was secured when Tottenham defender Kyle Walker deflected striker Diego Costa's shot into the net in the 56th minute.
The triumph ended the longest trophy drought in Mourinho's managerial career, having last won the 2012 Spanish title with Real Madrid before rejoining Chelsea in 2013.
The Portuguese, who collected the League Cup twice in his 2004-07 Chelsea reign, remains in contention this season to also win for the Champions League and the Premier League. What made Sunday even better for Chelsea was second-place Manchester City losing to leave Chelsea five points in front — now with a game in hand.
"This is the first one and we have to build on it," Terry said. "Hopefully we can kick on now."
For Tottenham it is the second cup disappointment in three days, having exited the Europa League at Fiorentina on Thursday. Mauricio Pochettino's first season in charge of Tottenham will be a trophyless one, but his young team is still developing.
"We played much better in the first half, and we respected our style and philosophy," Pochettino said. "We were better than Chelsea, and unlucky to concede the goal we did. It was hard for us."
Two months ago to the day Tottenham stunned Chelsea 5-3 on Jan. 1, but the west London club managed to largely thwart the north London club's attacking enterprise on this occasion.
The suspension of Chelsea midfielder Nemanja Matic led to centre back Kurt Zouma being deployed as the defensive shield. But it was Terry who so masterfully marshalled Chelsea's rearguard — particularly quelling 21-year-old Harry Kane, the striking revelation of the season.
When Kane was brought down on edge of the penalty area by Cesc Fabregas, Christian Eriksen's dipping free kick hit the crossbar. And after Kane brought the ball forward from the halfway line to the edge of the area, the breakthrough star of the season saw a low shot saved by Petr Cech.
Although Chelsea used the final to rest first-choice goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, Michel Vorm lost his usual spot in goal for Tottenham's cup games in favour of Hugo Lloris.
The captain was beaten on the stroke of half time having had little to do before then. Willian's free kick was half cleared by Dier and Terry's low shot was then helped over the line by the defender's deflection.
Lloris did limit the damage before the break by collecting Gary Cahill's header, and then saving Fabregas' overhead kick at the start of the second half.
But after Fabregas threaded the ball through to Costa, the Spain striker beat Lloris at his near post. It was game over. And a fine intervention from Terry in the penalty area in the 87th prevented Kane from giving Tottenham any hope of a comeback.
"The first half was even, but (the) second half we controlled it a bit better and deserved the win," Terry said.