Alonso brace spares Chelsea’s blushes on the South Coast in 2-2 draw with Bournemouth
AFC Bournemouth 2 Chelsea 2
A Marcos Alonso brace saved Blues' blushes, but this result at strugglers Bournemouth is nowhere near good enough given Chelsea's top four aspirations.
Considering the lead Frank Lampard's side took, the ease with which they twice conceded, and the last-gasp nature of the equaliser - the same questions will continue to be asked about this side's resolve when it really matters.
The return of Fikayo Tomori to the starting line-up was a crowd pleaser; though the continuing absence of Kepa between the sticks probably brought fewer smiles to the Directors Box.
The game was only a few moments old when Philip Billing struck from eight yards – straight at stand-in keeper Willy Caballero, who knew little about it truth be told.
Billing again carved-up Chelsea's left a couple of minutes later – this time finding the side netting.
Two diamond chances sent begging by the home side in not many more minutes than that.
And Chelsea poor start didn't improve much.
Just after the quarter hour Jorhingo picked up yet another yellow card – his tenth in the league this campaign – for a late challenge.
That will see him suspended for coming matches against Everton and Aston Villa – plus the trip to Bayern Munich immediately after.
A fortnight off work, fully paid, for misbehaving in the office. Nice work if you can get it.
Blues briefly improved once the stupor of the opening quarter subsided.
And that paid dividends on 33 minutes.
Reece James crossed from right, bringing a suitably cultured flick from Olivier Giroud – onto the underside of the bar.
It rebounded to Marcos Alonso, left of goal, who smashed the ball home.
But Chelsea's Dr Jeckyll turned Mr Hyde again after the break.
The Cherries securing of a corner on 54 minutes had all too predictable consequences, as Chelsea continued with their inability to defend set pieces.
Jefferson Lerma headed in, via the melting form of Caballero.
Three minutes, and the turnaround was complete.
This time a collective failing of the Blues' back three allowed Jack Stacey's cross to beat offside, and allow Joshua King to find the net.
Lampard switched things around: three rapid-fire subs switching the formation from 3-4-3 to 4-3-3, and changing a tiring Giroud for Michy Batshuayi.
The Belgian almost made an immediate impression, but his thumping strike was offside.
Chelsea had to rely on their best finisher – a back-up left back – to save their blushes.
With just five of the 90 minutes left, Alonso grabbed a second – impulsive, instinctive, inspirational - goal.
Brows were mopped – at least the calamity of defeat had been avoided.
But the lone point won't give much respite, with both Manchester United and Tottenham chasing.