Draw leaves Blues adrift of leaders City

Chelsea's Diego Costa (front) celebrating after his bicycle kick levelled the scores at 2-2 in the 81st minute yesterday.
Chelsea's Diego Costa (front) celebrating after his bicycle kick levelled the scores at 2-2 in the 81st minute yesterday.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Chelsea blew their chance of drawing level with Manchester City at the top of the Premier League table yesterday when two defensive errors forced them to share points with Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium.

The London football club could well have lost the match, if not for Diego Costa's acrobatic bicycle kick on 81 minutes which found the net off a deflection and helped them draw the match 2-2.

Antonio Conte's men looked very efficient and focused in the first half after they took about 15 minutes to find their bearings.

Forwards Costa, Oscar and Eden Hazard were rampant as Swansea's pragmatic 5-4-1 formation did not look fit to contain them, let alone pose any threats to the Chelsea goal.

Chelsea's opener on 18 minutes, though, came from a catalogue of errors from the Swansea backline.

Federico Fernandez initially met a cross well, but he could only head it straight up in the air.

Goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski started to go for the ball but Fernandez then decided to head it - straight to Oscar. The Brazilian squared it to Diego Costa, who buried it from 15 metres.

Conte will wonder how his side allowed Swansea to level in a game they had dominated.

On 59 minutes, following a swift Swansea counter-attack, the ball was put into the middle for Gylfi Sigurdsson, who got to it just before an advancing Thibaut Courtois, but the 'keeper took the midfielder down.

Sigurdsson got up to slot the penalty home and make it 1-1.

Three minutes later, from absolutely nothing, Swansea were ahead.

John Terry squared the ball in his own half to Gary Cahill, who dithered. Leroy Fer nabbed the ball off the defender and sneaked it under Courtois, who could have done better.

Cahill's claims of being fouled were waved away by the referee.

Then, as Chelsea pressed for a goal, the ball fell to Branislav Ivanovic, who tried a shot. It was half-blocked by the Swansea 'keeper and the ball dropped to Costa, whose textbook bicycle kick went in.

The goal saved Chelsea's blushes but Conte will be wondering how his players allowed Swansea to get back into a game they were controlling.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 12, 2016, with the headline 'Draw leaves Blues adrift of leaders City'. Print Edition | Subscribe