Baggies Bag A Draw At Chelsea

The honours were even at Stamford Bridge after a thrilling English Premier League encounter between Chelsea and West Bromwich Albion ended in a 2-2 draw.  The Blues started the match brightly but the night belonged to the Baggies who came back from going behind twice to share the
spoils with the copious hosts who remain in 14th position, three points behind Tony Pulis’ team.  Diego Costa came close to scoring for the home team in the first minute but could not keep his effort on target after a driving run into the box.

The Spaniard looked to be back to his old self and was combining well with the home side’s in-form Brazilian winger, Willian, who could have been on the score sheet himself, had his effort stayed on target in the eighth minute.  Pulis’ players were looking dangerous themselves down the other end, especially down the wings.  James McClean came closest for the visitors in the opening exchanges but headed his effort over the post after rising well to meet Darren Fletcher’s cross.

The Scotsman was getting into good positions and had a scoring opportunity denied in the 13th minute when his shot was blocked by the ever brave Cesar Azpilicueta.  After a bright start by the hosts, the momentum had swung in favour of the visitors who were placing the home defence under
severe pressure, yet against the run of play Guus Hiddink’s men took the lead in the 20th minute when Azpilicueta was on hand to tap in a Branislav Ivanovic cross at the back post.

The goal seemed to open up the game and end-to-end action ensued as the home side went on in search of a second, while their opponents looked to level matters.  West Brom posed a threat from set-pieces, a trademark of a Tony Pulis team but in the 33rd minute they equalised from open play when Craig Gardener pounced on a loose ball in midfield before unleashing a bullet of a shot from distance that rifled into the back of the net.  The goal unsettled Hiddink’s side and their frustration showed when Claudio Yacob was not given a second yellow for a wreckless challenge on Oscar.

Salomon Rondon came close for the visitors with a curling effort as half-time approached but the teams would go in level at the interval with a chance to cool off as the game reached boiling point.  The Londoners knew they had a game on their hands, however after an hour of play there was little separating the two teams.  Both managers introduced fresh legs and with a quarter of an hour left to play, Kennedy slotted the visitors ahead for a second time following good work from Willian on the right wing.

Diego Costa came close to doubling the Blues’ lead soon after but Boaz Myhill was equal to his
effort, getting down low to deny the striker.  Substitute Kennedy had looked lively since coming on for Pedro and had the Baggies on their heels in the closing minutes of the second stanza, coming close with a low drive in the 81st minute.  However, with the clock ticking down, the visitors continued to push on and their perseverance paid off in the 85th minute when a strike from substitute, McClean cancelled out Kennedy’s earlier effort.

A gutsy performance from Albion and Costa’s indiscipline was the highlight of an entertaining second half at Stamford Bridge as the black country club sneaked a well-deserved point away from home, a scarcity this season.

Teams:

Chelsea: Thibaut Courtois, Branislav Ivanovic, Kurt Zouma, John Terry, Cesar Azpilicueta, John Obi Mikel, Cesc Fabregas, Willian, Oscar, Pedro, Diego Costa.
 Subs: Asmir Begovic, Ramires, Kenedy, Loic Remy, Nemanja Matic, Gary Cahill, Ruben Loftus-Cheek.

West Bromwich Albion:
Boaz Myhill, Craig Dawson, Gareth McAuley, Jonas Olsson, Johnny Evans, James McClean, Darren Fletcher, Claudio Yacob, Chris Brunt, James Morrison, Salomon Rondon.
Subs:
Ben Foster, James Chester, Craig Gardner, Victor Anichebe, Saido Berahino, Callum McManaman, Stephane Sessegnon.

Venue: Stamford Bridge