Chelsea drew 3-3 away at Zenit St. Petersburg as a last-gasp equalizer from the Russians denied the Blues top spot in Group H and gives them a much tougher route in the UEFA Champions League last 16.
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Needing a win to guarantee top spot in their group ahead of Juventus, Thomas Tuchel rang the changes with an experimental Chelsea lineup.
After Timo Werner gave them an early lead, Chelsea conceded twice before half time via two sloppy defensive mistakes.
Tuchel looked far from happy on the sidelines throughout.
Sloppy mistakes cost Blues dear
First Chelsea failed to clear and allowed Claudinho headed home, then Sardar Azmoun was played in and beat the offside trap, rounded Kepa (who made several excellent stops to keep the score down) and finished to put Zenit ahead.
In the second half Romelu Lukaku made it 2-2 after Werner did superbly to set him up, then Christian Pulisic did wonderfully (more on that below) to create the goal which saw Werner make it 3-2 with less than five minutes of normal time left.
Just when it looked like Chelsea had rallied to secure the win, and top spot in Group H ahead of Juve, Magomed Ozdoyev smashed home a beauty from distance in the 94th minute to make it 3-3.
Check out this 🚀by Zenit's Ozdoev which was the stoppage time equalizer against Chelsea. Chelsea finished second in their #UCL group.
— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) December 8, 2021
That late equalizer means Chelsea will face one of Ajax, Bayern Munich, Real Madrid or the winner of Group G in the last 16.
Not ideal for the reigning European champions.
Pulisic looks bright in cameo as right wing-back
From a USMNT perspective, Christian Pulisic looked sharp and hungry as he jumped off the bench and played a pivotal role in Chelsea going 3-2 up.
Thomas Tuchel brought on Pulisic with 25 minutes to go in Russia and he played as a right wing-back.
Pulisic, 23, got down the flank and provided plenty of crosses, and then he came up with a lovely assist on Werner’s goal.
Check out the video of Pulisic’s silky assist below, as he cut inside after a great first touch, played a one-two with Hakim Ziyech and found Werner who slotted home.
The American winger is getting back to his best, and is likely to play a key role for a slightly jaded Chelsea over the busy festive period.