Chelsea failed to extend on their three-game winning run in the Premier League as Mame Biram Diouf’s 85th-minute header meant the Blues had to settle for a spoil of the shares.
Diouf’s header cancelled out Traore’s fine first-half strike but it was no less than Stoke deserved, with the home side evidently distracted by Wednesday’s crunch second-leg tie against Paris Saint-Germain.
It means the Blues fail to overtake their opponents in the league and stay in 10th position with 40 points and nine matches to play.
With Costa a slight risk knowing the importance of the mid-week tie against Paris Saint-Germain, Guus Hiddink opted to play Bertrand Traore, ahead of both Loic Remy and Alexandre Pato who were both on the bench.
The show of faith was nearly instantly rewarded, when Azpilicueta marched down the right and all Traore needed was a cleaner connection from the Spaniard’s cross.
Afellay was adding a new dimension to the old-fashioned Stoke style as he forced Courtois into a big save early on, but it was Arnautovic who really should have given his side the lead half-way through the first half but he could not control the ball sufficiently.
Willian shot wide from outside the box whilst Mark Clattenburg then turned down Traore’s penalty shout when his strike hit a Stoke arm.
Fear not, as moments later Traore did justify his selection. Matic’s pass to Traore looked simple but, to the Serbian’s delight, would actually turn into an assist given the wonderful work the Burkina Faso man did with the ball thereafter. A 180-degree turn and shot later, the ball was arrowing into the top-left hand corner of Butland’s goal. It was as sweet a 20-yard shot as you will see.
Arnautovic again tested Courtois by letting fly early in the second half and Geoff Cameron could not do more with the rebound.
Hazard was struggling to get going in the game but did show some flashes of excellent crosses but to no avail.
Cahill did well to stop an Arnautovic shot whilst, at the other end, he did well to bring the ball under control and shoot, but Butland was not to be beaten.
Loftus-Cheek came on for Hazard and Remy for Traore but neither did anything substantial to add to Chelsea’s goal tally.
Unfortunately, neither could preserve Chelsea’s lead either.
Shaqiri’s right-wing cross was punched out by Courtois and Diouf looped the ball back in over Ivanovic on the line.
Stoke could have won it at the end but Chelsea’s attention now turns to Europe.
What are your thoughts from the game? Leave your thoughts in the Comments section below!
Man of the Match
BERTRAND TRAORE: Whilst Traore did not have the perfect game, there is something refreshing to see a young Chelsea player come through the ranks and want to seize his opportunity as a Chelsea first-team player. Still got parts of his game to work on, such as getting in the right position to stay onside, but his instinctive youthfulness is great to witness. 7/10
Hiddink felt his side could have got more: “Stoke play well and creatively and they pushed us back. The first goal we got after a sloppy start, it was a beautiful goal. We should have got a penalty for a foul on Oscar. Any referee would have given a free-kick if it was outside the box. That was a key point. Stoke got some encouragement after that.”
Hughes was of a similar mindset: “We’re grateful to equalise but we deserved more from the game. It was an excellent away performance — we took the game to Chelsea. We were encouraged by the team they picked.”
Post written by Martin Li. Martin has had five years’ blogging experience, writing for the likes of Bleacher Report and SWOL. He runs his own Chelsea blog — The Chelsea Chronicle — which has match reaction and analysis from every Chelsea match. You can follow him on Twitter.
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