John Terry snatched a last-gasp Chelsea equaliser eight minutes into stoppage-time to rescue a dramatic 3-3 draw against Everton at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
Chelsea’s month-long unbeaten run under interim manager Guus Hiddink appeared to be at an end when Ramiro Funes Mori put Everton 3-2 ahead in the 90th minute.
But Blues captain Terry, who earlier scored an own goal to give Everton their opener, had the last word with a back-flicked finish worthy of a top striker, although there was controversy over the effort as the centre-back appeared to be in an offside position.
That late intervention capped a spirited, if error-strewn display, from Chelsea, who had fallen two goals behind after Kevin Mirallas added to Terry’s own goal.
A terrible defensive mix-up allowed Diego Costa to pull one back and Chelsea were level seconds later when a deflected Cesc Fabregas effort found the net, setting the stage for the memorable finale.
Hiddink had warned beforehand that Chelsea cannot regard themselves as immune from the prospect of relegation so long as they fail to record victories.
And last season’s Premier League champions, six points above the relegation zone, still look in some disarray after their second home draw this week.
Chelsea carved out the first chance and it took a smart save from Tim Howard to prevent Willian, played in on the right of the box by Fabregas, from opening the scoring.
Mirallas, having turned his man superbly to scamper into space, forced Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois into a diving parry as Everton ended the half strongly.
The Toffees took the lead five minutes into the second period thanks to Terry’s own goal.
Romelu Lukaku, Everton’s top scorer, was the key man as he fed the ball to Ross Barkley despite three blue shirts being in close proximity.
Barkley sent Leighton Baines into a crossing position on the left and Terry, mindful of Lukaku stealing in behind him, mis-kicked an attempted clearance into his own net from close-range.
– Outrageous –
Chelsea immediately squandered possession in their own half and were relieved that Barkley, played in by Mirallas, hit Courtois’ near post rather than the net.
Hiddink reacted by sending on attacking midfielder Oscar for the more defensive-minded Nemanja Matic but Everton’s second followed straight away.
Barkley’s burst put Chelsea on the back foot and Mirallas swivelled to control Baines’ cross from the left and fire past fellow Belgian Courtois.
Chelsea needed inspiration and Fabregas almost provided it with an outrageous flick that Howard did well to palm away.
In the end it took a hoof upfield to get Chelsea back in the game.
Fabregas launched a long ball for Costa to chase and the Brazilian tapped into an empty net after Howard raced off his line, only to miss the ball and take out team-mate Phil Jagielka instead.
Chelsea were roused at last and Oscar saw a shot saved before Fabregas’s effort took a deflection off Muhamed Besic to deceive Howard.
Hiddink’s side had scored twice in the space of two minutes and Everton were relieved not to concede a penalty when Costa went down under Jagielka’s challenge as the hosts poured forward again.
Everton were forced into a change when Bryan Oviedo was stretchered off to be replaced by Funes Mori.
The visitors still posed an occasional threat and Courtois made a game-saving stop to deny Mirallas after Besic had put him through with 15 minutes remaining.
Costa was hurt and had to go off as both sides made a flurry of changes for the final 10 minutes.
And when an Everton corner was headed straight to substitute Gerard Deulofeu he sent it back to the far post, where Funes Mori hooked into the net.
Yet Oviedo’s injury meant there was still time left for Terry to apply the finish to a sustained bout of pressure and preserve Hiddink’s unbeaten record as interim boss.
Photo Credits : AFP