Drogba double makes point for leaky leaders

Chelsea 3 Everton 3: Everton cash in as Chelsea offer little defence from set-pieces and Cech's nightmare spell continues

Roman Abramovich wanted more entertainment, but this was surely not quite what he had in mind. The blue meanies who went 10 home games without conceding a goal have suddenly become blue Santas, surrendering five in two games at Stamford Bridge and 10 in four overall.

None of those matches have been won, which offered Manchester United the chance to draw level on points at the top of the Premier League last night, only for them to blow the chance against Aston Villa.

The other significant statistic is the number of goals being conceded from set-pieces, which has reached ridiculous proportions: well over 80 per cent in the League this season. Yesterday, Everton's severely depleted side scored from two free-kicks and a throw-in from the five chances they created all afternoon. David Moyes claimed not to have targeted Chelsea in that area, which raised the question of what would have happened if he had. Everton's manager preferred to dwell on the "great resilience and endeavour" that had earned "a great draw", and the outstanding performance of his centre-forward Louis Saha.

Carlo Ancelotti was surprisingly relaxed, claiming his team were unlucky and that he had not lost trust in players he had earlier said were in the last-chance saloon. "I don't think we are in a crisis," he insisted, blaming the set-piece calamities on defenders dropping too deep and hindering Petr Cech – a classic symptom of not trusting a goalkeeper to come and claim the ball.

"We had the same problem against Aston Villa and worked on it and improved, and we must do the same again," Ancelotti said. "We have the same possibility to win the title. It will be a long race."

For those who had been at the Champions' League game against Apoel Nicosia on Tuesday, it was déjà vu all over again. Once more the visitors started unexpectedly well and scored an early goal, only for Chelsea to negate it and then go ahead themselves with only a quarter of the game played. Again, the defending was inadequate to protect the lead; where it took the Cypriot champions until the final knockings to draw level, Everton did so right at the end of an eventful first half, with the substitute Yakubu Aiyegbeni's first touch. The twist was that even after moving in front once more, Chelsea could stay there for no longer than four minutes.

Every time the ball went in the air, they looked likely to concede. Leighton Baines' free-kicks were a particular source of danger, which made it all the more foolish to keep conceding them. After 12 minutes, Saha headed on, the ball bouncing on to a post and then into the net off Cech, who is enduring a horrible run. Ricardo Carvalho burst forward to set up the equaliser within six minutes. He forced the ball to Frank Lampard, whose deft touch allowed Didier Drogba to hammer past Tim Howard.

Six minutes more and it was Everton caught out at a set-piece. Saha, back defending, miskicked at a corner and Branislav Ivanovic found Nicolas Anelka lurking just beyond the far post for a smart chip into the top of the net.

A minute from the interval Everton, already without the suspended Tim Cahill and nearly a dozen others, lost the Brazilian striker Jo, forced off with a hip injury. His replacement, Yakubu, was barely on the pitch when they won a throw deep on the left that Marouane Fellaini flicked on for John Terry to miskick, the ball striking Carvalho and falling to Yakubu's feet for a tap-in.

For the second half there were enough black shirts protecting Everton's goal for a 1930s rally. Yet they were penetrated within quarter of an hour, Ivanovic crossing for Drogba to volley his 18th goal of the season. Within a few minutes there was another shambolic response to a free-kick. John Heitinga hoisted it over and Drogba's header out hit Saha and looped back over the stranded Cech, who berated his team-mate for not giving him sufficient room. It was Everton's only threat of the half, but they smothered Chelsea for the remaining half an hour until Michael Ballack, given an opportunity in added time, drove wide.

Ancelotti had thrown on three substitutes, removing Joe Cole, who was again unable to offer incontrovertible evidence that he should be the man to play in his favoured position just behind the strikers. Drogba and Anelka – 25 goals between them so far – must be wondering how many they need to score to ensure a victory. Others drinking in Ancelotti's last-chance saloon were staggering away from Stamford Bridge with an uncertain gait yesterday evening.

Attendance: 41,579

Referee: Phil Dowd

Man of the match: Drogba

Match rating: 7/10

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border