Eden Hazard scored late goal as Chelsea draw Wolves

Eden Hazard scored a late goal as Chelsea came from behind to manage a point

Eden Hazard scored a stoppage-time equaliser to rescue a point for Chelsea against Wolves at Stamford Bridge.

Hazard curled into the bottom corner in the second minute of added-time to deny Wanderers a memorable victory.

Raul Jimenez finished off a swift counter-attacking move to put Wanderers ahead with their only shot on goal nine minutes into the second half.

That looked to be enough, particularly when substitute Willian saw his curling effort well saved by Rui Patricio late on, but Hazard struck to salvage a draw with his 17th goal of the season.

Despite only managing one shot at goal, Wolves may feel aggrieved at only securing a point having defended diligently, restricting Chelsea to half-chances and efforts from distance.

Chelsea only had one attempt at goal during the first half, an effort from Gonzalo Higuain from a tight angle that was comfortably pushed behind by Patricio.

Maurizio Sarri’s side improved after going behind, with Pedro having a shot tipped over before Higuain failed to convert when the ball flashed across the box following a corner.

It was hard to see Chelsea scoring as the game entered added time but Hazard showed neat skill to turn away from Ruben Neves and finally beat Patricio from 18 yards.

Eden Hazard scored a late goal as Chelsea came from behind to manage a point
Eden Hazard scored a late goal as Chelsea came from behind to manage a point

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Hazard secures unlikely point

Chelsea were looking to maintain momentum after back-to-back wins in the Premier League had eased some of the pressure that had been growing on Sarri after his side’s thrashing at Etihad Stadium last month.

Another loss here may well have put his position under scrutiny once more, but Hazard’s late intervention makes it three league games without defeat and seven points from nine since that defeat to the champions, though they have exited the FA Cup and lost the Carabao Cup final on penalties during that timeframe.

After making a number of changes for Thursday’s Europa League last-16 first leg win over Dynamo Kiev, Sarri restored many of his key players to the starting line-up, including Hazard and N’Golo Kante.

However, they were subdued for much of the game, particularly during the first half where they managed just one shot on target.

Chelsea enjoyed 75% possession but precious little of it was in dangerous areas, with Wolves content to sit back and look to hit on the counter.

Half-hearted penalty claims were turned down when Hazard’s corner hit Jimenez on the arm as he attempted to clear.

Romain Saiss then had to be alert to clear the ball away from Hazard after Willy Boly’s headed clearance inadvertently landed in his path.

Jimenez’s goal after the break jolted Chelsea into action, with Pedro and Higuain going close, but it took a dramatic intervention from top-scorer Hazard to finally breach the Wolves backline.

The point was not enough to move Chelsea back into the Champions League qualification places, had they won they would have moved fourth, two points behind Tottenham and still with a game in hand.

Instead, they remain sixth, locked in a tight battle with Spurs, Arsenal and Manchester United for the final two spots in the top four. They do, though, also have the chance to qualify for next season’s Champions League by winning the Europa League and take a 3-0 lead into Thursday’s second leg of their last 16 clash with Dynamo Kiev.

Wolves continue to impress

They may have only managed one shot on target, but this was far from a smash-and-grab by Wolves.

The Black Country club have won more points against the ‘big six’ sides than any other club outside that group and have also taken points away at Arsenal, Manchester United and Tottenham this season.

That success has been achieved by being well organised in defence but also having a clear gameplan to counter-attack with speed.

That plan worked to perfection when, having restricted Chelsea to half-chances, Wolves struck with their first shot at goal 11 minutes into the second half with a move that started in their own penalty area.

Willy Boly’s clearance found Joao Moutinho, who immediately found the onrushing Jimenez. The Mexican striker strode forward and exchanged passes with Jota, before forcing the ball beyond Kepa Arrizabalaga via a deflection off Cesar Azpilicueta.

Wolves were forced deeper as Chelsea pushed for an equaliser but held firm, with captain Conor Coady marshalling the back three.

Leander Dendoncker also proved to be an efficient screen in front of the defence, with no Wolves player making more tackles or interceptions than the Belgian.

The fact Wolves, promoted from the Championship last season, are disappointed to only take a point is testament to the progress they have made this season.

But they can take plenty of encouragement from this performance as they prepare for their FA Cup quarter-final against Manchester United next weekend.

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