A win on Tuesday was crucial for Chelsea as they looked to keep pace with the Premier League title and they looked to have sealed a win before a late goal caused them to lose two points in a 1-1 draw match against Brighton & Hove Albion at Stamford Bridge.
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The Blues started the match on the front foot and looked to test Robert Sanchez’s goal early, with Cesar Azpilicueta hitting the post and Antonio Rudiger’s header demanding attention from a set piece. And it was from a set play where Thomas Tuchel’s side would eventually take the lead; Romelu Lukaku on the way in after defeating Neal Maupay with ease after a quick VAR consideration judged that he did not make a mistake during the goal.
Brighton got more into the game after the opening and stopped the flow of Chelsea attacks. Graham Potter unleashed a swerving effort from the right that the visitors’ keeper did well to tip wide.
But the game changed again when N’Golo Kante was introduced in the 67th minute. Chelsea started working several counter-attacking opportunities and swung the pendulum back in their favor to gain control of the midfield. It seemed to be a matter of playing the game off Chelsea with the most dangerous inconvenience from the visitors over, but it was not without a late aftershock that saw Danny Welbeck equalize and snatch a draw for the away team in stoppage time.
Chelsea were strong from set pieces, which made up for periods where they looked tired, while another goal for Lukaku will be positive going forward for his form.
Reece James has been one of Chelsea’s most prolific players this season and his injury to Brighton could be a major blow as fans wait to see how long he stays out of the game.
Manager rating (out of 10)
7 – A difficult match for Tuchel to cope with two players who were injured in the first half. Kante’s introduction was well timed and helped Chelsea regain control of midfield.
Player rating (1-10; 10 = best, players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Edouard Mendy, 7 – A strong reaction stop pushed Adam Lallana’s effort away to a corner kick in a solid match from the Chelsea goalkeeper. Mendy could not do anything about the equalizer late.
DF Antonio Rudiger, 8 – Rudiger stopped one of Brighton’s most dangerous attacks in the game and read the game’s passage quickly after Mateo Kovacic lost the ball. A crucial blockade stopped Maupay’s efforts destined for an empty net.
DF Andreas Christensen, 7 – The Danish national team player was unlucky to incur an injury in the middle of the first half, even though he continued to serve until the break, when he was eventually replaced.
DF Cesar Azpilicueta, 8 – The defender was close to bringing Chelsea into the lead but was rejected by the post. Azpilicueta was an excellent defensive player, often the man who put an end to Brighton attacks.
MF Callum Hudson-Odoi, 6 – Hudson-Odoi appeared on cue near the post, and steered it past the goalie. His final product should have been better when he tried to cut the ball back, which would have left an empty net.
MF Mateo Kovacic, 6 – The 27-year-old admitted possession in a dangerous area at one point, but it was an anomaly in an otherwise fair performance. Kovacic delivered with care and worked tirelessly on defense, often helping against Tariq Lamptey’s dynamic run down the left side of Chelsea.
MF Jorginho, 5 – An off night for the Italian national team player who too often gave the ball away through careless passes or by being taken possession.
MF Reece James, 6 – James suffered an unfortunate injury after taking a heavy challenge when he dribbled in between two players, ending his game prematurely in the 26th minute.
FW Christian Pulisic, 6 – The 23-year-old was sharp in ball possession and was unlucky not to win a penalty kick with what appeared to be contact in the box. However, he was not involved enough with Chelsea at the back foot for much of the match.
FW Mason Mount, 6 – Impressive delivery from set pieces created problems for Brighton, who were penalized when Mount found Lukaku for the opener. Sometimes he could have taken better care of the ball, but the striker always took risks and sought to play progressively.
FW Romelu Lukaku, 7 – Pulling on the shoulders of the challenge from Maupay and heading home from the corner to send Chelsea into the lead.
DF Trevoh Chalobah, 6 – Keep things simple and handle the danger in a no-nonsense way. Quick to track runs from balls behind.
DF Marcos Alonso, 6 – Alonso used their ability to concentrate their attacks in the middle of the pitch, rather than on the wings. Endured a fierce battle against Lamptey.
MF N’Golo Kante, 6 – Chelsea needed the French national team player’s presence in midfield, with the home side struggling to stop Brighton from transferring the ball quickly to the final third.