More set piece woe has cost Chelsea maximum points at home to Everton, the visiting side handed three goals upon arrival and a point as they left. Didier Drogba’s excellently taken double and Nicolas Anelka’s classy finish were not enough as the match ended in a 3-3 draw.
Chelsea started brightly enough, the nigh on unplayable Drogba flashing a shot across Tim Howard’s goal in the opening few minutes. Cech was tested too, comfortably saving from Jo effort from outside the area.
However, Lampard’s foul on Pienaar meant that Everton had a free kick. What followed would turn out to be a neat summation of the nights defending. Leighton Baines’ delivery was good, but not exceptional. Saha leapt and scrambled a header that evaded everyone and hit the post. Cech’s despairing dive wasn’t enough to get a touch, but as the ball hit the post, it then rebounded back into the Chelsea keeper and into the back of the net. Unlucky, but also not unexpected, given recent form.
To their credit though, Chelsea responded as potential champions should. They ramped up the pressure on the makeshift Everton defence and were given their due reward, just six minutes after going behind.
Ricardo Carvalho dispossessed Saha just inside the Everton half. Storming forward, the Portuguese defender picked out Lampard, whose gorgeous touch fell straight into the path of Drogba, who curled a delicious left footed curler into the top corner. It was a truly sumptuous team goal and at that point, everything looked like it would turn Chelsea’s way again.
The turbo charged response continued and six minutes after the equaliser, Chelsea were in front. Louis Saha made a meal out of clearing a Chelsea corner and did very little in recovering the situation as the ball dropped to Ivanovic. The Serbian held off Saha and picked out Anelka, who still had plenty of time. The world stood still though, as the Frenchman delicately but powerfully finished high past Howard into the roof of the net. All was well again.
Play settled down for the most part of the remainder of the half, yet there was still one more twist before the break. Jo was injured in a challenge with Terry and hobbled off to be replaced by Yakubu. He’d not been on the field two minutes, before he scored himself.
A long throw was not dealt with by Chelsea as firstly Carvalho, then Terry failed to clear. The ball struck the prone Carvalho once more, before popping up to Yakubu who gleefully tapped in from all of two yards. Two all at the break.
After the disastrously conceded first half goals, there was no doubt that Carlo Ancelotti had strong words at half time. Delightfully, they had an effect as just thirteen minutes into the second period, Chelsea took the lead.
It was a goal of careful and intricate execution. The immensely impressive Ivanovic raided forward down the right, a move which culminated in a beautifully chipped cross to the back post where Didier Drogba swept Pienaar aside to powerfully volley past the hapless Tim Howard.
And yet, despite the lead being taken once more, a set piece was to prove Chelsea’s downfall, again.
This time it was Ivanovic who conceded a free kick in dangerous area. Dutch defender Johnny Heitinga lumped the ball forward towards Saha. Drogba, back defending, rose highest to head clear. Unfortunately, his powerful header hit Saha, who unknowingly equalised as the ball looped over the stranded Petr Cech and in. The Chelsea goalkeeper, at the end of his tether, launched a withering attack on all and sundry as the score was pegged back to 3-3.
Howard twice denied Chelsea in the minutes after, firstly doing well to tip over a goal bound Michael Ballack free kick, before again excelling in denying Didier Drogba’s cross/shot that was dipping in at the far post.
A spate of substitutions did little to change the course of the game, but there was one late, late chance for a winner. Youngster Fabio Borini’s cross was headed partially away by the Everton defence. Ballack, coming forward, thumped a beautifully struck left footed shot a foot or so wide of the far post with Tim Howard nowhere to be seen and so the chance went begging.
Not a crisis just yet, but work needs to be done, despite Chelsea being let off the hook by Aston Villa’s defeat of Manchester United.
Chelsea (4-1-2-1-2): Cech; Ivanovic, Carvalho (Belletti 85), Terry (c), A Cole; Mikel (Borini 87); Ballack, Lampard; J Cole (Malouda 75); Anelka, Drogba.
Manager Carlo Ancelotti
Everton (4-4-2): Howard (c), Neill, Heitinga, Hibbert, Baines; Pienaar, Fellaini, Rodwell, Bilyaletdinov; Saha (Agard 90+2), Jo (Yakubu 45+3).
Manager David Moyes
Referee Phil Dowd