Schalke may sit 16th in the Bundesliga table but the German side gave an inspirational display to draw 1-1 with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
It was end-to-end action throughout the evening in West London with Cesc Fabregas breaking the deadlock in the 10th minute after some impressive link-up play with Eden Hazard. Schalke gathered themselves well, however, and after a series of strong counter-attacks their relentlessness paid off in the 62nd minute as Julian Draxler found Klaas Jan-Huntelaar, who hammered home from 10 yards out.
Just ten minutes into the match and Chelsea broke the deadlock as Hazard stole the ball towards the left side of midfield, cut inside and dropped off a pass into space for Fabregas to finish from close range. Schalke then gained some momentum through Sidney Sam, Julian Draxer and Kevin Prince Boateng, all of whom had their attempts on goal thwarted by the Chelsea defense. The Blues weathered the storm, however, and in the 36th minute Fabregas should have had his brace but his left-footed flew well over the bar.
With 10 first-half shots on goal Schalke deserve credit for their efforts and in the 38th minute Boateng was at it again with his right-footed shot from outside the box heading into the top corner but Thibault Courtois was up to the task. Schalke continued to push forward and mere seconds before the half time whistle it was Draxler who came closest to scoring when he split three Chelsea defenders on the run and beat Courtois but his shot skimmed just wide of the post.
Chelsea came right out of the gates in the second half with Willian finding space down the right side of play and serving in a delicious ball but Didier Drogba couldn’t get his feet right. After a barrage of great breaks from Chelsea, a brilliant 60th minute long-ball from Fabregas found Drogba on the break and his right-footed shot went inches wide. Chelsea’s efforts were all for naught, however when just two minutes later Hazard lost the ball in the middle of the pitch and Draxler picked it up, scampered 30 yards and provided a defense-splitting pass for Huntelaar to hammer past Courtois for the equalizer.
Far-and-beyond Schalke’s best player, Draxler continued to cut up the midfield and in the 70th minute he nearly gave his side the lead on a rip from 25 yards out that Courtois parried away. Five minutes later, substitute forward Loic Remy found himself with an open look on goal from 10 yards out but his effort was miraculously cleared off the line. It was heart-pounding action for the final 20 minutes with Draxler terrorizing the Chelsea defense but little help coming from his offensive compatriots. Chelsea continued to pour forward and in the 83rd minute the versatile Remy found himself on the by-line but no one was there to meet his perfect pass across the mouth of goal. Hazard looked the most likely to break the deadlock but his 84th minute volley went just over the bar and his 85th minute diving shot, off a brilliant ball by Fabregas, was well-saved by Fahrmann.
Impressive stuff from Schalke and a solid outing by Chelsea but Jose Mourinho’s side will rue their lack of finishing in the final third.
Chelsea: Courtois; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry (c), Filipe Luis; Matic, Fabregas; Ramires(Oscar – 67′ ), Willian(Remy – 74′), Hazard; Drogba (Diego Costa – 74′)
Goals: Fabregas 10′
Schalke: Fährmann, Höger, Ayhan, Neustädter, Fuchs, Boateng, Aogo, Sam (Barnetta – 78′), Meyer (Choupo-Moting – 74′), Draxler(Obasi – 86′), Huntelaar
Goals: Huntelaar 62′