Cesc Fabregas returns to form as Chelsea earn 3-3 draw vs. Everton
A last-gasp John Terry equaliser that should have been flagged offside spared Chelsea's blushes in a dramatic 3-3 draw at Stamford Bridge.
After a turgid, scoreless opening half, Terry put through his own goal and Kevin Mirallas doubled Everton's advantage early in the second period. The writing looked on the wall for Guus Hiddink's men but to their credit -- and thanks to Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas, who combined well to each score -- Chelsea pulled level. Ramiro Funes Mori's 90th minute, poorly defended goal appeared to have sealed all three points for the visitors right up to last of the eight added injury time minutes when Terry equalised.
Once again, Hiddink's team selection was a source of exasperation for Chelsea supporters -- the Dutchman persisted starting with Pedro only to replace him yet again with Kenedy, who will be wondering what else he needs to do to merit inclusion.
Salvaging a point seems to be as good as it gets for Chelsea these days and the sight of Branislav Ivanovic being turned inside out on the right flank, plus Costa hobbling off late on and requiring further tests, will not calm frayed fans nerves ahead of next weeks away game with high-flying Arsenal.
Player Ratings (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Thibaut Courtois, 6 -- Made a couple of decent saves to deny Mirallas and keep Everton at bay, but had little chance with John Terry's own goal and his Belgium international teammate's smart volley that doubled the Toffees' lead. The duo duelled throughout the game and Courtois pulled off a world-class save to prevent Mirallas scoring again with the scores level at 2-2. Culpable perhaps of being poorly positioned when Funes Mori scored the visitors' third but would have justified cause to argue with the defence in front of him who failed him.
DF Branislav Ivanovic, 3 -- Clearly targeted by Everton manager Roberto Martinez as a potential weak link in Chelsea's backline, Ivanovic was subjected to continued torment by Leighton Baines and Mirallas, who ran riot down the Blues right flank. Was also nowhere in sight when Funes Mori scored.
DF Cesar Azpilicueta, 6 -- Had a fairly quiet afternoon defensively as Everton channeled their attacks on the opposite flank. Made some decent runs forward and linked up well with Fabregas in particular.
DF John Terry, 6 -- Capably assisted Zouma in keeping Chelsea's creaking defence together in the first half, but was caught out under pressure from Romelu Lukaku when playing Baines' smartly drilled cross off himself and into his own goal. If that was bad luck, then fortune would go on to favour the Blues skipper who strode forward to equalise with the last kick of the game even though he was actually offside.
DF Kurt Zouma, 6 -- Had an excellent first half and made good use of his physical presence and mobility to contain Lukaku in particular, but struggled once Everton mastered Chelsea's defensive midfield. Another character-forming game for Zouma who is certainly being given plenty of opportunity to master his trade by interim boss Hiddink.
MF John Obi Mikel, 6 -- Had to shoulder the lion's share of work in the midfield engine room and made a reasonable fist of keeping Ross Barkley quiet. Offered little going forward with passing generally lacking creative vision.
MF Nemanja Matic, 3 -- Appeared to lack confidence on the ball. Slow to read the game and was bypassed for much of the first half as Everton pressed forward. Offered little support to Mikel and was hooked off in the 55th minute.
MF Willian, 7 -- Yet another indefatigable performance from the tigerish Brazilian; not for the first time this season, he covered more yards than any other Chelsea player. Was given plenty of physical attention but endeavoured to stay on his feet and play on with a smile on his face.
MF Pedro, 4 -- Only Hiddink knows why Pedro was afforded another start following his abysmal midweek showing against West Brom. Continually over ran the ball when in possession and was eventually replaced by Kenedy in the 66th minute.
MF Cesc Fabregas, 8 -- Put in arguably his best performance for Chelsea of the season. Linked up superbly well with Costa throughout the game. A deft lofted pass to feet saw his teammate score to bring the Blues back into the game and a reverse move with his fellow Spain international saw him ripple Everton's net in fine style.
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FW Diego Costa, 7 -- Led Chelsea's line with customary purpose and bossed the Blues' expensive defensive transfer target, John Stones, throughout the contest. Took his goal superbly when teed up by Fabregas and repaid the favour in setting up his teammate to level the scores. Blotted his copybook with a glaring lack of judgment when standing a yard off Everton's line and having a clear chance to turn in a smart Azpilicueta cross. His late injury withdrawal will be a concern to Hiddink ahead of next weekend's London derby with Arsenal.
MF Oscar, 6 -- Replaced Matic as Hiddink switched tactics and asked Fabregas to play deeper. His key contribution was a last-gasp pass to Terry from which the skipper leveled the game.
MF Kenedy, 7 -- Replaced Pedro and showed more purpose and creative attacking intent in 30 minutes than the Spaniard had in 60.
FW Loic Remy, NR -- Replaced the injured Costa with 10 minutes remaining but made little impression on the game.
Mark Worrall is one of ESPN FC's Chelsea bloggers. You can follow him on Twitter: @gate17marco