Captain. Leader. Legend. That’s what the banner inside Stamford Bridge reads, and John Terry certainly lived up to that mantra with a back-heeled 98th minute equaliser in Chelsea’s 3-3 draw against Everton.
On another day, Terry could have been the scapegoat, as he was responsible for an own goal just after halftime that led to Everton taking the lead, but much like the rest of his team, he showed remarkable resilience in fighting back for a point, considering his side had to come from two goals down.
Everton, on the other hand, have to be asking themselves how they let this one slip away. The Toffees were 2-0 up after 55 minutes and looked to be well on their way to taking their first win at Stamford Bridge since 1994.
But while the second half produced the entertainment, the first half most certainly was a bit cagey. Guus Hiddink had opted for a more conservative approach, restoring Nemanja Matic to the lineup alongside John Mikel Obi and Cesc Fabregas pushed higher up the pitch. It left the Blues with a bit of a creative conundrum, though all concerns were nearly put to bed inside 16 minutes when Willian broke through Everton’s back line, only for Tim Howard to save the one-on-one chance.
As the first half continued, that lack of creativity began to show, as the Blues created few real chances to threaten Howard’s net, and Everton began to maintain possession and show their growing threat.
Warning signs began to appear in the 18th minute when Ross Barkley’s deflected cross fell to Bryan Oviedo who fired just wide. Everton’s best chance came in the 40th minute when a great run from Kevin Mirallas produced a well-placed shot that Thibault Courtois saved.
Everton would get the breakthrough their play deserved just minutes after the break. Matic, who failed to really impose himself on the match, failed to nick the ball from former Chelsea man Romelu Lukaku. The ball fell to Barkley who found the overlapping Leighton Baines, whose cross was diverted into his own net by John Terry.
Signs of the Chelsea from this season began to appear, with Diego Costa now angrily remonstrating with opposing players and officials after every decision.
Matic, who failed to make any real impact on the match, was withdrawn for Oscar, but things didn’t improve.
Kevin Mirallas doubled Everton’s lead inside the hour-mark when Baines’ cross from the left found him just inside the Chelsea penalty area. A lovely flick and a turn left Mikel for dead, and Belgian fired past his countryman with deadly accuracy.
Unlike most of this season, Chelsea began to respond to the adversity with great energy and determination. Diego Costa turned his aggression towards getting a goal, and on 64 minutes, shrugged off Phil Jagielka to latch on to a Fabregas’ long ball, dodged the challenge of Tim Howard, and thumped the ball into the empty net to give the Blues a lifeline.
Less than 90 seconds later, Fabregas and Costa again combined, this time with a one-two that freed the Spanish midfielder, and his shot took a deflection off John Stones and looped beyond Howard for the equaliser.
Everton thought they had the winner when Gerard Deluofeu’s cross to the back post found both Lukaku and Ramiro Funes Mori unmarked at the back post, with Funes Mori hooking the ball into the net, prompting him to leap into the Shed End in celebration.
Their celebrations were short-lived when in the 98th minute, Branislav Ivanovic and Oscar combined to held the ball into the path of Terry for his back-heeled equaliser that rescued a point for the Blues, prompting the Chelsea man to leap into the Matthew Harding Stand in celebration.