Everton ended Chelsea’s winning run with a dramatic late equaliser from substitute Ellis Simms at Stamford Bridge to bolster their hopes of Premier League survival.
The 22-year-old outmuscled Kalidou Koulibaly to steal in and make it 2-2 in the 89th minute, after Kai Havertz’s penalty looked to have made it four victories in a row for Graham Potter’s side.
Joao Felix gave Chelsea the lead early in the second half of a match they had dominated up to that point, before being pegged back by Abdoulaye Doucoure’s headed goal.
The hosts were again left to rue missed opportunities, with their fluid attacking play blunted by a lack of killer instinct inside the box.
The first roar of anticipation from a noisy home support came early. Michael Keane’s headed clearance from a Ben Chilwell corner dropped to the edge of the box, from where it was crashed narrowly wide of goal via a leaping volley from Mateo Kovacic.
Christian Pulisic, back in the team for the first time in two months, got in down the left and pulled the ball back for Chilwell to prod it towards the stretching Felix, whose contact was just too slight to turn it past Jordan Pickford.
The breadth of Chelsea’s play challenged Everton’s defensive organisation, attacking fluidly down either flank with Reece James and Chilwell at their incisive, energetic best. Enzo Fernandez hit short and long balls with deadly precision, and Felix stretched the visitors with his mesmerising close control.
Yet for all Chelsea’s endeavour, a first-half goal would not arrive. Felix – through whom every promising attack seemed to flow – tried with a drilled effort from 18 yards that flew straight into Pickford’s gloves. A clever free-kick move ended with a low shot from Fernandez which was blocked.
The hosts had started the game in the bottom half of the table but a winning run and at last a sense that Potter knows his favoured starting XI and shape had lifted the mood of Stamford Bridge. Even with Raheem Sterling out injured, they attacked like a team comfortable in one another’s company, full of spirit and belief.
The second half opened with more Chelsea pressure. Chilwell, excellent again throughout, crossed from the left and Havertz rose to power a header low at goal which was beaten out by Pickford. On the rebound, Keane narrowly beat Felix to the ball and cleared.
The goal was the architecture of Chelsea’s two best players. Fernandez hit another sublime pass which fell perfectly onto the left…
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