Chelsea 1-1 Stoke: Mame Biram Diouf earns Potters a late point at Stamford Bridge
By Gerard Brand
Last Updated: 05/03/16 5:37pm
Mame Biram Diouf's 85th minute header earned Stoke a deserved 1-1 draw at Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
Despite Diouf missing two clear chances for Stoke early on, Chelsea took the lead through Bertrand Traore's superb left-footed strike from 25 yards.
Xherdan Shaqiri forced a fine save out of Thibaut Courtois in the second half, and got their equaliser through Diouf's header with five minutes remaining, just as Stoke were preparing to substitute the striker.
The result leaves Chelsea in tenth, 10 points off the top four spots, while Stoke are seventh, three points ahead of the Blues.
Diego Costa and Pedro were left out of the squad for Chelsea in view of the Champions League last-16 second leg against PSG on Wednesday, while Cesc Fabregas started on the bench.
The hosts' lack of creativity and attacking threat showed in the opening stages as the best two chances fell to Stoke.
Diouf fed Ibrahim Afellay on the left wing from halfway, and having continued his run, got on the end of the Dutchman's superb cross, but could only poke the ball over Courtois' crossbar.
Diouf again had an opportunity to give Stoke the lead two minutes before Chelsea themselves scored, but he volleyed into the ground and wide from 12 yards after Shaqiri's chipped cross to the far post.
Chelsea went into the half ahead through 20-year-old Traore, who received the ball from Nemanja Matic with his back to goal 25 yards out, before turning and unleashing a superb shot into the left corner for his fourth goal in five games.
Courtois got down well to tip away Shaqiri's left-footed drive from 15 yards just before the half-hour mark as Stoke had the better of the chances in the second half again.
Chelsea felt they should have had a penalty when Oscar went down under a tackle from behind by Marc Muniesa, but referee Mark Clattenburg waved play on.
Substitute Ruben Loftus-Cheek forced a decent save out of Jack Butland at the other end from an acute angle, but Stoke got a deserved equaliser four minutes later.
Shaqiri's cross from the right towards Marko Arnautovic was punched away unconvincingly by Courtois, and as the ball fell to Diouf, who was due to be substituted by manager Mark Hughes, the striker composed himself to loop his header into the empty net for 1-1.
Stoke had the chance to win it in injury time after Giannelli Imbula powered past two Chelsea players to get to the byline and centre for Bojan, who carried the ball across the face of the area before attempting to find the bottom left corner, but Courtois was equal to his effort.
Chelsea: Courtois (6); Azpilicueta (6), Cahill (6), Ivanovic (6), Baba (6); Mikel (6), Matic (6); Willian (7), Oscar (5), Hazard (5); Traore (7).
Subs: Loftus-Cheek (6), Fabregas (N/A), Remy (6)
Stoke: Butland (6); Cameron (7), Wollscheid (7), Muniesa (6), Pieters (6); Whelan (6), Imbula (8); Shaqiri (7), Afellay (7), Arnautovic (6); Diouf (7)
Subs: Ireland (N/A), Joselu (N/A), Bojan (6)
Man of the match: Giannelli Imbula