Huntelaar clinches draw for Schalke at Chelsea

AP, Wednesday 17 Sep 2014

Chelsea v Schalke
Chelsea's Didier Drogba, right, fouls Schalke's Sidney Sam during the Champions League Group G soccer match between Chelsea and Schalke 04 at Stamford Bridge stadium in London (Photo: AP)

Dutch striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar stunned Chelsea by rescuing a 1-1 draw for a patched-up Schalke side at the start of their Champions League campaign in Group G on Wednesday.

In a dominant and composed first-half display by Chelsea, Cesc Fabregas scored his first goal for the London club in the 11th minute after escaping punishment for a foul in the buildup.

But Chelsea seemed to treat the injury-hit visitors too lightly, with striker Didier Drogba missing several opportunities to mark the first start of his Chelsea homecoming with a goal at Stamford Bridge.

The hosts were made to pay in the 62nd minute when the tables were turned on Fabregas, who lost lost possession in Schalke territory, and the German side launched a rapid counterattack that Huntelaar completed in the 62nd minute.

"It was frustrating because we had very good chances to make it 2-0 and we didn't," Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said. "And after the 1-1 we had a fantastic reaction and chances to win the game, but that's football. That's the Champions League ... Schalke came to get a point and fought hard to keep the result."

Huntelaar's goal ended Chelsea's perfect start to the season, after four wins in the Premier League secured by Diego Costa's seven goals. But the need for Costa to allow a hamstring muscle in his left thigh to recover meant Drogba made his first Chelsea start since winning the 2012 Champions League final with a spotkick.

"He had a positive game, I am happy with what he did," Mourinho said. "I am not disappointed with the striker because one inch he scores the goal or doesn't score a goal."

Fortune seemed to be favoring Chelsea early on when referee Ivan Bebek failed to penalize Fabregas for launching into Max Meyer with a sliding tackle that completely missed the ball. The midfielder not only escaped any sanction for his recklessness but play continued. And Eden Hazard seized possession, cut in from the left and played in Fabregas to slot under goalkeeper Ralf Faehrmann.

Having set up six goals in four games, the Spain midfielder had found the net for the first time since leaving Barcelona.

Chelsea also created chances to go further in front. Drogba's powerful header, though, from Filipe Luis' cross went straight into Faehrmann's arms. And when Fabregas was left completely unmarked in front of goal, with goal at his mercy, he blasted the ball over.

Schalke finally began to impose itself toward the end of the first half with Kevin-Prince Boateng's swerving shot being pushed around the post by Thibaut Courtois' diving save. Julian Draxler managed to drift past three Chelsea defenders, only to slot wide of the post just before halftime.

Chelsea was also struggling to find the target. Hazard completely missed at the start of the second half. And when Drogba latched onto Hazard's defense-splitting through-ball, Stamford Bridge expected a goal, but the striker clipped the ball just wide of the post.

Then, Huntelaar seized the ball from Fabregas and set Draxler off on the break before the ball was returned to equalize.

"When were aggressive we played into space," Schalke manager Jens Keller said through a translator. "We had a really good tempo."

When Drogba curled the ball over it was a sign that Chelsea needed changes up front. And both Diego Costa and Loic Remy duly came on for their European debuts with Chelsea, with Drogba and Willian making way for the strike duo.

Remy immediately had a chance to put Chelsea in front, only to be thwarted by Roman Neustadter, who headed the shot off the line. Hazard also volleyed over before being denied by Faehrmann's fine save.

However, with Sporting Lisbon drawing 1-1 with NK Maribor in Slovenia, Chelsea's consolation on the night was knowing that it's all square in the group.

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