London - Chelsea remained unbeaten under new coach Guus Hiddink
after conceding a late equalizer to draw 2-2 at home to West Bromwich Albion in
the Premier League on Wednesday.
Unmissable with a protective black mask, Cesar Azpilicueta put
Chelsea ahead after 20 minutes, turning in a low cross from Branislav Ivanovic.
West Brom hit back and was rewarded with an equalizer when Chelsea
gave the ball away and Craig Gardner fired home from 25 meters in the 33rd
Chelsea's pressure paid off in the 73rd minute when West Brom's
Gareth McAuley turned the ball into his own net as he tried to intercept a low
cross by Willian.
But victory slipped through Chelsea's grasp at the end, when James
McClean pounced to score an equalizer in the 86th minute to end the Blues'
hopes of a third consecutive victory in all competitions.
Chelsea is unbeaten in six games since the departure of former
coach Jose Mourinho. But Hiddink's chances of securing a top-four finish
receded further in front of owner Roman Abramovich and ahead of Saturday's
clash with Everton.
Chelsea began well. Diego Costa glided by Jonny Evans but shot
wide and Willian fired off target either side of a chance for McClean, who
headed off-target from Darren Fletcher's cross.
Azpilicueta is less than prolific, but likes scoring against West
The full-back, who netted at The Hawthorns in August, claimed his
first goal at Stamford Bridge when he prodded in Ivanovic's cross at the back
There were holes aplenty in the visiting defence, but Chelsea's
rear guard was porous too.
West Brom exposed those frailties when Pedro gave the ball away to
Fletcher, who was influential for the visitors. Fletcher prodded it to Gardner,
who did the rest, shooting into the bottom corner from distance.
Costa ballooned an effort over and Salomon Rondon shot just wide
as both sides had chances to take an interval lead.
Pedro made his debut at The Hawthorns and inspired Chelsea to a
first win of the season, but his star has faded since. The subdued Spain winger
was withdrawn for Kenedy at half-time and the Brazilian gave Chelsea
much-needed pace and penetration.
Costa had no complaints when he was booked for a poor lunge on
Gardner after losing control of the ball.
Chelsea continued to press, with a deflected Costa effort going
into the side-netting.
McClean was then booked for squaring up to Thibaut Courtois as the
contest became more niggly still.
Chelsea took the lead for a second time when Willian's cross
deflected in off McAuley, who was under pressure from Kenedy.
Costa was denied and Kenedy shot wide before McClean equalized
from the edge of the area after Chelsea twice failed to clear.