- Chelsea now find themselves four points behind league leaders Manchester City
- The Blues took the lead against Everton thanks to Mason Mount, but were pegged back four minutes later
- Notably, Tuchel’s side failed to collect all three points in a game which they had 80% possession
Chelsea were frustrated to a 1-1 draw by a depleted Everton side as Thomas Tuchel’s men missed the chance to close the gap on league leaders Manchester City on Thursday, December 16.
Mason Mount gave the hosts the lead in the 70th minute, but Everton equalized four minutes later through teenager Jarrad Branthwaite who was making his first league appearance of the season.
How it happened
In truth, Chelsea will be wondering how they did not win the match, despite having 80% possession and a staggering 23 shots.
For Benitez, who was making a return to Stamford Bridge after a spell as Chelsea manager in 2012-13, he made five changes to his Everton side in the absence of the likes of Demarai Gray, Salomon Rondon, Fabian Delph and Richarlison who were either out through illness or injury.
Chelsea, on the other hand, were without the services of Romelu Lukaku, Timo Werner and allum Hudson Odoi, whom Tuchel had disclosed earlier, had tested positive for COVID-19.
The absence of recognized strikers was certainly felt as Chelsea were constantly thwarted by Jordan Pickford.
Mason Mount and Reece James had their earlier efforts go wide, while Hakim Ziyech was also unlucky on three separate occasions.
After a goalless first half, Mount eventually gave his side a deserved lead with a calm finish from Reece James’ pass.
The goal seemed to settle the nerves that were building within the Chelsea team, but Everton, in a superb show of grit and character, got an equaliser four minutes later from an unlikely source.
19-year-old defender Jarrad Branthwaite ghosted in at the back post to convert from a Anthony Gordon free-kick in a goal that stunned the hosts in their own turf.
Chelsea had to go for the win once again but it was not forthcoming, with Thiago Silva having the best chance to snatch a winner but his header was expertly kept out by Pickford.
In the end, Tuchel will look at it as two points dropped against a side they were traditionally expected to beat.
Liverpool win, again
In the other game, Mohammed Salah scored his 22nd goal of the season as Liverpool came from behind to see off Newcastle 3-1.
Relegation-threatened Newcastle took the lead after seven minutes via Jonjo Shelvey, but the game was turned on its head through two quickfire goals from Jota and Salah.
Source: Sports Brief News