Chelsea 2-2 West Brom: James McClean rescues point for Baggies
By Richard Morgan
Last Updated: 14/01/16 6:08am
James McClean's late strike earned West Bromwich Albion a 2-2 draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night.
The champions had led through Cesar Azpilicueta's 20th-minute goal, only for Craig Gardner to equalise with a long-range shot just past the half-hour mark.
However, the home side appeared to be heading towards back-to-back league wins for the first time this season when Gareth McAuley put through his own net 16 minutes from time, before McClean's intervention.
As a result, Chelsea remain down in 14th place in the table after a sixth draw of the campaign, while the Baggies drop to 13th, three points ahead of their opponents.
Chelsea boss Guus Hiddink was still without injured playmaker Eden Hazard, with the Dutchman making three changes from the side that beat Crystal Palace in the Premier League last time out.
The Baggies, meanwhile, brought back Jonas Olsson, James McClean and Salomon Rondon in place of Craig Gardner, Rickie Lambert and Stephane Sessegnon, although unsettled striker Saido Berahino was once again only a substitute.
However, West Brom manager Tony Pulis was forced into making an early change when key midfielder James Morrison joined the long list of players to have suffered hamstring injuries over the Christmas period, with Gardner replacing him after just seven minutes.
It was not long though before Chelsea took the lead, albeit slightly against the run of play, after right-back Branislav Ivanovic's brilliant ball across the six-yard box found its way through to fellow full-back Azpilicueta at the far post.
And the Spain international had no problems whatsoever converting his second goal of the season from virtually on the goalline.
But if the champions thought that strike would lead to more goals before half-time, they were much mistaken as West Brom refused to be cowed by falling behind, with Gardner drawing then level just 13 minutes later.
The midfielder picked up possession of the ball midway through the Chelsea half and drove towards the home defence, before drilling a low effort from 25 yards out past a helpless Thibaut Courtois.
Minutes after the visitors had equalised, midfielder Claudio Yacob was fortunate to find himself still on the pitch after pulling back the breaking Oscar having been booked earlier in the game.
The home side's anger only increased after the break when the Argentine clashed with Diego Costa on the edge of the penalty area, only for referee Anthony Taylor to once again keep his cards in his pocket, with Pulis immediately withdrawing his player.
That moment of controversy was soon forgotten, though, when the Blues went back in front after good approach play down the right by Willian.
And when the Brazilian crossed from the byline, the ball somehow ended up in the back of the net off a combination of Kenedy, introduced at the break for the disappointing Pedro, and McAuley.
But if Hiddink's team thought they had secured all three points, then they were wrong as their stubborn opponents refused to lie down, with McClean earning West Brom a deserved point after his low shot from the edge of the area beat Courtois with just four minutes to go.
Chelsea: Courtois (6), Ivanovic (6), Zouma (7), Terry (6), Azpilicueta (7), Mikel (6), Fabregas (7), Willian (7), Oscar (7), Pedro (5), Costa (7)
Used subs: Kenedy (7), Matic (6)
West Bromwich Albion: Myhill (7), Dawson (7), McAuley (6), Olsson (7), Evans (8), McClean (8), Fletcher (9), Yacob (7), Brunt (7), Morrison (6), Rondon (7)
Used subs: Gardner (8), Berahino (7), Sessegnon (6)
Man of the match: Darren Fletcher