Premier League - Everton earn point at Chelsea
Sat, 04 Dec 17:01:00 2010
Chelsea surrendered a half-time lead to draw 1-1 with Everton at Stamford Bridge to slip to third in the Premier League.
Didier Drogba had blasted the Blues in front with a spot kick towards the end of the first half, but Everton fought back in the second period and got their just deserts when substitute Jermaine Beckford headed home.
Chelsea were setting out to arrest a run of form which had seen them pick up just four Premier League points from a possible 15, losing their position at the top of the division in the process.
Carlo Ancelotti was able to select captain John Terry and Michael Essien for the first time in almost a month, restoring some strength to the spine of his side.
Everton set themselves up to play 4-5-1, with Louis Saha on his own up front, and Phil Jagielka able to take his place in central defence after overcoming a knock.
Everton dominated the first sixty seconds, with Saha forcing an early save from Petr Cech and Leighton Baines curling in a tempting set piece, but that was as good as the first half got for the visitors.
Chelsea looked confident on the ball, passing with typical pace and precision, and enjoying much the better of the play.
Their possession, however, did not translate into a glut of chances. Nicolas Anelka fired a warning shot with a long-distance effort which flashed a couple of yards wide of the upright 20 minutes in.
Six minutes later Terry almost capped his comeback with a goal, hitting the crossbar with a delicate floated shot from just outside the six-yard box after his first shot rebounded back into his path.
Salomon Kalou glanced a header wide after another good corner from Florent Malouda, and it looked as if the Everton defence, in which Sylvain Distin was particularly impressive, were doing enough to keep the Blues out.
But a horror backpass from captain Phil Neville unleashed Anelka, leaving Tim Howard with an almost-impossible situation to salvage.
The goalkeeper was booked after bringing down Anelka for the penalty, and Drogba powered the spot kick past Howard to give the hosts the lead.
If Everton had felt they had not given of their best in the first half, they remedied it in the second, starting positively and creating several chances, inspired mostly by the left boot of Baines and the dynamism of Jack Rodwell.
These two combined for the Toffees' best chance, with Rodwell meeting Baines' inviting cross with a firm header which struck the inside of the post but stayed out.
Jagielka also went close with a glanced header across the face of goal, but the equaliser did not materialise.
The game was stopped for almost five minutes as Cech dived at Tim Cahill's feet to claim a ball, and got a boot in the head for his troubles. The incident brought back memories of the challenge from Stephen Hunt on Cech in 2006, but the goalkeeper was able to continue after receiving stitches just above his eyebrow.
But Everton continued to probe, and finally got their reward courtesy of the brilliance of Baines.
The England full-back skipped past three Chelsea players before delivering another good ball to the far post. Cahill steered a header into Beckford's path, and the striker guided his header past Cech from point-blank range.
Seven minutes of injury time were played, and though Everton looked the likelier side to find a winner, the scores remained level.
Chelsea's poor run of form continues, which will be a concern with fixtures against Tottenham, Manchester United and Arsenal all coming up in December, while Everton will take heart from a performance which belies their lowly position in the table.Mark Patterson / Eurosport