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Burnley stand firm to share the spoils as Chelsea blow chance to move into third

Chelsea 2-2 Burnley: A point was a poor return for a home fixture on a weekend when the Gunners, Tottenham and Manchester United had all managed to lose

Jon West
Stamford Bridge
Monday 22 April 2019 21:22 BST
Kepa Arrizabalaga looks on after conceding the first goal of the night
Kepa Arrizabalaga looks on after conceding the first goal of the night (Getty Images)

Chelsea passed up a golden opportunity to move ahead of their rivals for a top-four spot by allowing Burnley two goals in a frantic game that turned sour by the final whistle.

In the end Maurizio Sarri’s side moved above Arsenal into fourth on a night when N’Golo Kante and Gonzalo Higuain were on target.

But a point was a poor return for a home fixture on a weekend when the Gunners, Tottenham and Manchester United had all managed to lose. The Blues have now also played a game more than their rivals and bust-ups on the pitch before the end and off it afterwards were symptomatic of frustration borne by a missed opportunity.

As for Burnley, who saw Jeff Hendrick open the scoring and Ashley Barnes complete it, the point means they will be back for another season of top-flight football next term.

The first half doubled as a homage to Manchester City’s Champions League second leg with Tottenham as high-quality attacking play and some questionable defending combined to conjure up four goals in the opening 25 minutes.

N’Golo Kante beats Tom Heaton to draw Chelsea level (Getty Images)

Burnley were the first to find the net, in the eighth minute having been penned into their own half up to then.

It came from a set-piece, naturally, when Cesar Azpilicueta headed away a corner to Hendrick lurking on the edge of the box. The Republic of Ireland international watched its flight before launching a volley past Kepa Arrizabalaga.

The lead was short-lived – all of four minutes – thanks to Hazard, whose trickery on the left of the box was too much for Matt Lowton. The Real Madrid transfer target pulled the ball back for Kante to hit first-time past Tom Heaton, who had already pulled off a block to deny Hazard.

Two minutes later and it was Higuain’s turn for another fine move and quality finish. The on-loan Juventus striker produced a fine drag back to fool Ben Mee – notable earlier for an acrobatic clearance off the line – Azpilicueta employed a backheel for the one-two and Higuain took a stride before smashing the ball in off the underside of the crossbar.

Jeff Hendrick celebrates after scoring an equaliser for Burnley (EPA)

Home hopes that Burnley would be cowed by such a double setback evaporated when Barnes levelled from another set-piece, this time a free-kick.

Mee rose to meet it at the back post and Chris Wood used his head to flick it on to where Barnes was lurking six yards in front of goal for a finish high into the net.

The game calmed down significantly after that – too much for referee Kevin Friend’s liking when it came to Burnley goal-kicks, with Heaton booked for delaying one too many.

Chelsea were forced into a change five minutes before the break when Callum Hudson-Odoi managed to injure himself taking down a high ball. On came Pedro, who managed to fluff a great chance with a duff touch right in front of goal.

Eden Hazard up to his usual tricks for Chelsea (AP)

Kante did not reappear for the second period, with Matteo Kovacic replacing him in the middle.

Pedro set up Higuain for a snapshot that Heaton was able to get behind but Jorginho’s poor pass allowed Barnes to put Wood into a shooting position only for the Kiwi to get the ball tangled under his feet at the vital moment.

Chelsea continued to create the majority of the chances however and Higuain’s dummy allowed Azpilicueta to steal in at the back post but Heaton parried and Loftus-Cheek spooned over the shot that followed.

Chelsea sent on Olivier Giroud for the final 13 minutes but Burnley held firm, with stoppage time featuring an angry shoving match between both sets of players before Sarri was sent to the stands. The final whistle saw members of both benches replicate the bad feeling as stewards intervened.

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