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Chelsea 3-3 Everton


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logo1.jpgChelsea conceded three times as Everton secured an unlikely point at Stamford Bridge.

The Blues had conceded just once at home all season in the Premier League, but fell behind early on when the ball bounced in off the post and on to the unfortunate Petr Cech for an own goal.

Chelsea responded through Didier Drogba's stunning drive and Nicolas Anelka gave the Blues a 2-1 lead.

However Yakubu equalised for Everton on the stroke of half-time, and a Louis Saha header earned the Toffees a share of the spoils after Drogba had earlier given the hosts the lead.

The result means Chelsea's lead at the top of the table could be reduced to merely goal difference should Manchester United beat Aston Villa at Old Trafford, and the Blues' perfect home record has also been cancelled out.

Chelsea dominated the match but their defending was at times comical. Despite doing more than enough to ensure a victory, the hosts conceded three goals from dead ball situations that will underline their recent defensive frailties - Chelsea have now conceded ten goals in their last four matches, and five in their last two at home.

Chelsea were still reeling from the injury to Michael Essien, sustained in Wednesday's 2-2 draw with APOEL Nicosia, and the hosts clearly missed the presence and drive of the Ghanaian midfielder. Chelsea have failed to win a match since their demolition of Arsenal last month, and have now either lost or drawn their last four games.

And this intriguing encounter - a repeat of last season's FA Cup final - could not have gotten off to a worse start for Chelsea as they fell behind after just eleven minutes as Louis Saha's header was flicked on to the post and went in off of Cech.

However Chelsea responded in a fashion typical of their performances under Ancelotti, and equalised through a sumptuous Drogba effort after Ricardo Carvalho and Frank Lampard combined to tee up the Ivorian striker for his 17th goal of an exquisite season.

And Stamford Bridge erupted into a cacophony of noise as Anelka poked home from close range after Branislav Ivanovic had flicked on a corner from Lampard to give Chelsea a deserved 2-1 lead. The Blues were good value for the scoreline, and besides the scoreline indicating otherwise, had totally dominated Everton and in truth warranted a greater scoreline in their favour.

But Chelsea failed to clear a Diniyar Bilyaletdinov long throw, which Yakubu smashed home from close range after both Terry and Carvalho failed to clear the immediate danger. Almost undeservedly, Everton had restored parity - and it was the first touch of substitute Yakubu, who replaced the crocked Jo only moments before.

Nevertheless, just ten minutes into the second half, Chelsea were back in the lead as Ivanovic's cross was expertly volleyed home by Drogba after Tony Hibbert had failed to clear.

Yet back came Everton again as Johnny Heitinga's freekick into the box was headed on to Saha's forehead by Drogba, and the ball looped over Cech to make it 3-3. It was a highly fortuitous goal for the visitors, but the Chelsea defence and goalkeeper will need to take a long, hard look at themselves for conceding such a soft goal.

The Blues pinned Everton back into their half for the remaining twenty five minutes, and Michael Ballack almost found the winner but he dragged his shot wide of the post from outside the area.

The draw means Chelsea have dropped point at home for the first time at home since April - again versus the Merseysiders. Manager Carlo Ancelotti said that he was "happy with the performance of the team but not the result."

A win for Manchester United would mean that the invincible-looking Chelsea side that dispatched Arsenal and Sir Alex Ferguson's team last month would be top of the table by the virtue of goal difference only.

The rot goes on; yet fear the backlash. Portsmouth visit Stamford Bridge on Wednesday, and few would bet against the Blues returning to winning ways against the Premier League's bottom-placed team. Looking at the Blues' upcoming fixtures, anything other than nine wins from nine will be acceptable. The pressure is on.

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Chelsea (4-4-2): Cech; Ivanovic, Carvalho (Belletti 85), Terry ©, A Cole; Mikel (Borini 87); Ballack, Lampard; J Cole (Malouda 75); Anelka, Drogba

Everton (4-4-2): Howard ©; Hibbert, Neill, Heitinga, Baines; Pienaar, Rodwell, Fellaini, Bilyaletdinov; Jo (Yakubu 45+2), Saha (Agard 90+3)

The TalkChelsea.net Man of the Match was Chelsea's number 11 - Didier Drogba

Everton-DD11.jpg

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