Gaffes gift Baggies 3-0 lead but Abraham snatches late goal to rescue Blues in 3-3 thriller
By Paul Lagan
WBA 3 v Chelsea 3
Tammy Abraham scored a late-late goal to rescue a point for the Blues as they came back from a seemingly disastrous 3-0 deficit to nab a 3-3 draw at the Hawthorns against WBA.
The west Londoners were a shambles in defence in the first half as errors by Marcos Alonso and Thiago Silva gifted the home side simple goals. Then a sleepy defence saw them fall further behind.
Despite almost total possession of the ball, it took 10 minutes into the second half for the revival to start.
Mason Mount and then substitute Callum Hudson-Odoi struck, leaving striker Abraham the easiest of chances to snatch a 94th minute leveller.
Frank Lampard dumped Kepa Arrizabalaga to the bench giving Willy Caballero an outing as £22million new boy Edouard Mendy was deemed not ready to start between the sticks.
He was certainly needed.
Alonso’s poor header on four minutes saw the ball fed to Callum Robinson, who let fly from the left hand side of the Chelsea penalty area, and the striker pinged a low ball across Willy Caballero and the ball zipped into the far post to give the hime side an early lead.
Chelsea responded well, controlling the ball and Kai Havertz left fly on 10 minutes which Johnstone did well to parry away.
Tammy Abraham missed a sitter two minutes later when he scooped the ball over the WBA crossbar from close range after a great ball in by Reece James.
Timo Werner smacked a right-footed volley onto the WBA crossbar on 15 minutes, as the Blues, wearing their third kit, a mix of Crystal Palace home kit dipped in a sea of salmon skin went for the jugular.
Disaster struck for the Blues on 25 minutes when Thiago Silva let a simple pass from Andreas Christensen slip under his boot, Robinson reacted smarty, raced to the edge of the area and plonked the ball past Caballero.
Seconds later and the Londoners went 3-0 down, as Kyle Bartley was alone at the far post and simply tucked the ball home on 29 minutes.
It was Abraham’s turn to slash the ball high over the WBA crossbar with six minutes left of the first half.
Frank Lampard opted to discard Alonso and Mateo Kovacic at half-time and brought on Hudson-Odoi and Cesar Azpilicueta.
Azpilicueta resumed the armband that was given to Silva.
Ten minutes after the restart, the Blues got a wonderful goal, from Mount, the midfielder let fly with a sensational 25-yard right footer that gave Johnstone no chance.
Havertz forced a fine save from the WBA stopper a minute later but he tipped the ball away for a corner.
Incredibly with 20 minutes left, the Blues scored again, as Havertz played a one-two with Hudson-Odoi just inside the Baggies’ area and the substitute slipped the perfect daisy-cutter past Johnstone.
Lampard then replaced Silva with striker Olivier Giroud.
With a change of formation, Chelsea retained the largest share of possession of the ball, but lacked any great urgency.
As the clock ticked onto the final minute of five added minutes, the Blues pushed forward and the ball fell invitingly to Abraham at the far post and the striker slipped the ball home to rescue a deserted point.
Next up for the Blues, Chelsea travel to north London to face Spurs in the Carabao Cup fourth round.
Teams: Caballero, James, Silva, Christensen, Alonso, Kante, Mount, Havertz, Kovacic, Werner, Abraham
Subs: Arrizabalaga, Jorginho, Barkley, Tomori, Giroud, Hudson-Odoi, Azpilicueta
WBA: Johnstone, Furlong, Ajayi, Bartley, O’Shea, Townsend, Costa Pereira, Livermore, Sawyers, Diangana, Robinson
Sub, Robson-Kanu, Phillips, Harper, Edwards, Kipre, Button, Field