A Romelu Lukaku brace wasn’t enough to earn Chelsea a victory over Wolves on Saturday afternoon, as two late goals from the visitors sealed a 2-2 draw.
Strikes from Trincao and Conor Coady earned the visitors a point, after Thomas Tuchel’s men had largely dominated proceedings to temporarily make a poor run of form seem like a distant memory.
The hosts showed no signs of being affected by their recent struggle for goals, though, as they started brightly, showed confidence going forward and immediately caused problems for the Hornets, who were without manager Bruno Lage because of Covid-19.
Timo Werner might have wheeled away in celebration right in front of the visiting fans were it not for quick reflexes and a strong hand from Jose Sa within the opening ten minutes, while Lukaku was denied by a recovering Romain Saiss inside the Wolves penalty area soon after.
The visitors, however, grew into the game and should have been ahead in the 23rd minute, when Saiss stooped to head Joao Moutinho’s free kick over the bar from a few yards out.
Still looking likeliest to pull ahead in what had become a more evenly weighted clash, though, Chelsea actually had the ball in the back of the net twice in quick succession after the clock had hit the half-hour mark.
Werner was originally denied a lovely goal after having been (probably wrongly) adjudged to have fouled Saiss in the build up, before Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s scruffy effort was chalked off after having been spotted in an offside position before bundling the ball over the line by a VAR check.
Those quickfire disallowed goals seemed to breathe fire into proceedings before Peter Bankes blew for the interval, as both sides passed up opportunities to break the deadlock.
Leander Dendoncker fired high and wide with the goal at his mercy after latching onto Pedro Neto’s rebounded effort before Rayan Ait-Nouri scuffed an effort wide of the goal for the visiting side, in between which Sa saved very well to deny Lukaku a much-needed goal.
The Chelsea striker wouldn’t have to wait long, however.
After Sa had produced yet another brilliant stop to deny Werner, the hosts were awarded a penalty following a pretty quick VAR check that sent Bankes to the on-field monitor ten minutes after the restart.
It wasn’t a difficult decision to make; Saiss was very clumsy as he brought Lukaku down with an avoidable tangle of legs, allowing the Belgian to assume responsibility and tuck the penalty away with aplomb.
With the atmosphere pumped up, the Blues visibly had the wind in their sails and doubled their lead just a couple of minutes later. Pouncing on a misplaced pass, Christian Pulisic played a nice ball to Lukaku, who showed no hesitation in securing a brace as he finished fantastically into the bottom corner from just outside the box.
The Blues subsequently looked to have assumed total control of proceedings, although substitute Trincao visibly had other ideas. Almost immediately after being introduced, the Portuguese gathered a pass from fellow substitute Chiquinho before driving towards goal and unleashing a fearsome strike into Edouard Mendy’s top corner to set up a nervy final ten minutes.
With the game turned upside down, Chelsea found themselves on the ropes as the match neared its conclusion and would have conceded a second were it not for Trincao’s sloppy finish to a good move.
That fatal equaliser did come, however, in the most dramatic way. With the clock having entered the seventh minute of stoppage time, it just seemed inevitable for visiting skipper Coady to get his head on Chiquinho’s cross and plant the ball into the back of the net to spark delirium in the away end.
The draw extends Chelsea’s winless run to three Premier League games, while Wolves avoid a fourth consecutive defeat in the competition.
GK: Edouard Mendy – 6/10 – Produced a couple of good stops in either half but had no prayer with either strike.
CB: Cesar Azpilicueta – 5/10 – Looked better when moved to wing-back at the midway point but seemed fatigued throughout.
CB: Thiago Silva – 6/10 – Always switched on, once again proving a menacing and obstructive presence for the opposition’s attacking players.
CB: Antonio Rudiger – 6/10 – Stepped in to cut out any danger with typical authority and distributed possession with beautiful finesse at times.
RWB: Reece James – 6/10 – Improved when pushed back into defence after the break, making the back line look more secure.
CM: Mateo Kovacic – 7/10 – Good movement to play through the lines and inject a bit of intensity into his side’s build-up.
CM: Ruben Loftus-Cheek – 7/10 – Thought he’d broken the deadlock only for VAR to ruin the party, but he can be pleased with a solid display in which he read play well and spread play nicely to keep things ticking along from the base of midfield.
LWB: Marcos Alonso – 5/10 – Really not much to report from the Spaniard, who was understandably hooked at the interval.
CF: Christian Pulisic – 7/10 – One of his side’s biggest threats, always looking progressive when picking the ball up and notably grabbing an assist for his side’s second.
ST: Romelu Lukaku – 8/10 – Hit and miss with his efforts on goal early on but grew in confidence after his penalty and finished brilliantly to seal a quickfire brace.
ST: Timo Werner – 7/10 – Tenacious and lively, asking some serious questions of his opposition. Unlucky to have his first-half goal disallowed and couldn’t quite grab a goal that his performance deserved.
SUB: Saul Niguez (46′, for Alonso) – 6/10 – A neat showing, maintaining possession well enough and winning the ball twice.
SUB: Malang Sarr (86′, for Azpilicueta) – N/A
SUB: Kai Havertz (90,’ for Lukaku) – N/A
GK: Jose Sa – 9/10 – Called into action quite a few times and remained alert throughout, pulling out several fantastic saves. Wolves‘ best performer.
CB: Willy Boly – 6/10 – Struggled with Werner’s pace a bit but was generally solid on the back foot, managing three ball recoveries.
CB: Conor Coady – 8/10 – A strong leader’s display, capped off with a stunningly late equaliser.
CB: Romain Saiss – 4/10 – Was coping well with his opposition until making a reckless foul to gift Chelsea the game-changing penalty.
RWB: Jonny – 5/10 – Didn’t see much of the ball to make an impression in forward areas, but can be satisfied with the work he did at the other end.
CM: Joao Moutinho – 5/10 – Dangerous from dead-ball situations but faded in and out of the game against physically dominant opposition.
CM: Ruben Neves – 5/10 – Tidy enough with the ball, but disappointingly did nothing to drive a response from his side.
CM: Leander Dendoncker 5/10 – Should have scored just before the break
LWB: Rayan Ait-Nouri – 6/10 – Really composed display in the first half but a bit of an up-and-down second.
ST: Pedro Neto – 5/10 – Looked dangerous at times, although his side’s defensive set-up didn’t really afford too many opportunities to strut his stuff.
ST: Raul Jimenez – 5/10 – Put in a real shift but could do little to impact proceedings with his limited service.
SUB: Hwang Hee-Chan (70′, for Neto) – 6/10 – Put himself about and injected some energy.
SUB: Chiquinho (70′, for Saiss) – 8/10 – Introduced some thrust in midfield and changed the game with a brace of assists.
Trincao (77′, for Neves) – 7/10 – What a goal – the perfect introduction.