Wasteful Chelsea pay the price as Burnley snatch late point

Thomas Tuchel’s side were forced to settle for a point

For what felt like an eternity, Chelsea dominated Burnley with brilliant and brutal nonchalance. But when the end finally arrived, it was Thomas Tuchel’s side who were left flustered and frantic, made to rue a litany of missed chances as Chris Wood somehow snatched a late equaliser at Stamford Bridge.

A 1-1 draw will leave a bitter taste to Chelsea’s title charge and invite serious scrutiny over their wasteful finishing in the absence of Romelu Lukaku. It is no catastrophe in terms of the table, with the club still guaranteed to go into the international break top, but the shadows of Manchester City and Liverpool now loom larger over their shoulders again. They had every chance to kill off this game, with Burnley clinging on by a fraying thread, but failed to cut loose and only have themselves to blame.

That should not detract from Burnley’s heart to survive the onslaught, with Nick Pope spectacular in goal, even if they remain in the relegation zone for now. For so much of this contest, they were helpless bystanders but found a way to bridge the gap in quality with their own iron grit. If that stays intact, few would confidently bet against them fighting their way out of danger once again.

How they weren’t punished and widely beaten by Chelsea, though, will remain a furious mystery to Tuchel. The forebears of a lopsided victory had been evident from the outset, like the smell of stale cordite after Guy Fawkes Night. What was ostensibly a weakened Chelsea side, with Ross Barkley hauled from a gilded periphery for a first league start for the club in over 15 months, sparked into life instantly. Callum Hudson-Odoi was afforded an incomprehensible amount of space on the right-wing, pounced on Barkley’s pass, and forced a fine save from Nick Pope before flashing the rebound wide of the far post.

The rhythm was unremitting. Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rudiger both flashed free headers wide from badly defended corners. Barkley’s curled shot from the edge of the area fizzed past the outside of the post. The gulf in class was extraordinary but hardly surprising. In fact, the only source of wonder was how Chelsea had not taken the lead.

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Burnley were blunt, ragged, and at times worryingly toothless in the tackle. Maxwel Cornet has made for a lonely source of inspiration, scoring four goals in five appearances since joining from Lyon, but was under constant siege from Chelsea’s defence, and Pope made another terrific save to deny Reece James’s deflected cutback. Instead, Burnley’s only real flashpoint came from the touchline. Sean Dyche had grown increasingly frustrated with his players but soon vented that fury in the direction of Tuchel after the Chelsea coach began furiously remonstrating with the referee.

The animosity continued to simmer in the background, but on the pitch, Chelsea finally had their breakthrough. Kai Havertz had hurtled into the advertising hoardings when stretching for the ball only minutes earlier, but required only the most nonchalant of glancing headers to give his side the lead, such was the exquisite precision of James’s cross.

Matej Vydra celebrates his equaliser at Stamford Bridge

It was the least Chelsea deserved, with Burnley unable to land even the faintest flick of a glove on Tuchel’s side. In truth, they stood a better chance in the technical areas, where the bickering ratcheted up and the real excitement was brewing. Dyche’s assistants, Ian Woan and Steve Stone, rotated like pair of swearing Rottweilers, demanding respect with words not so much dripping in their own. Tuchel responded with a superior laugh. After all, Chelsea were operating on an entirely different level.

The second half promised to provide little jeopardy to that fact. Repeatedly, James and Hudson-Odoi emerged in unguarded space on the right as Burnley refused to heed their warnings. Within the space of a few minutes, almost identical moves saw Thiago Silva’s header clip the near-post and Matt Lowton make a brilliant last-ditch tackle to deflect Havertz’s tap-in over the bar. Still, though, the second refused to arrive. That was in part credit to Pope, who produced another magnificent save with his feet to keep out Hudson-Odoi’s low shot before Barkley’s final contribution was to blaze a close-range shot over the bar after another terrific piece of build-up play.

That left Chelsea at the mercy of a snatch-and-grab, no matter how remote that possibility often seemed. Jay Rodriguez came off the bench and almost delivered it instantly, with a header that nestled in the side-netting. The minutes ticked away, Burnley’s courage boiled to the surface, and soon after they struck. With just over ten minutes remaining, Josh Brownhill’s cross was nodded down by Matt Vydra and Wood, suddenly in acres of space, thrashed home his 50th Premier League goal.

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