A brilliant strike from Danny Drinkwater denied Chelsea the chance to mark Guus Hiddink’s final game in charge with a win, earning Premier League champions Leicester City a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge.
Hiddink took over from Jose Mourinho in December and helped steer the club into the top half of the table, but Drinkwater’s effort ensured he would not get a winning send-off before Antonio Conte takes the reins next season.
Leicester clinched the title following Chelsea’s 2-2 draw with Tottenham on May 2, and the Foxes were welcomed onto the pitch by last season’s winners with a guard of honour – Claudio Ranieri, Blues manager from 2000 to 2004, receiving a warm ovation from the home fans.
Kasper Schmeichel produced excellent saves to keep Willian and Cesc Fabregas out in the first half, but he was beaten 21 minutes after the restart. After substitute Jeffrey Schlupp felled Nemanja Matic inside the box, Fabregas slotted a cool finish from the penalty spot beyond the Dane.
The deposed champions were unable to see out the win, though, with Drinkwater, returning from suspension in place of Shinji Okazaki, firing beyond Thibaut Courtois – back in the line-up after recovering from illness – with eight minutes remaining.
Stoke’s win at home to West Ham leaves Chelsea 10th after a season of stagnation, while Leicester end their memorable campaign 10 points clear of second-placed Arsenal at the summit.
Chelsea quickly set about trying to upstage the new champions, Pedro cutting inside of Danny Simpson and curling a shot from the left-hand side of the box narrowly wide of the far post in the seventh minute.
Jamie Vardy fired off target from 20 yards in the 13th minute, but Riyad Mahrez set him up for a better chance midway through the half.
The Algeria international scooped a pass in behind the defence that Vardy latched onto, lifting the ball over the onrushing Courtois and wide of the post.
Chelsea responded positively, with Pedro nicking the ball away from Schmeichel and teeing up Bertrand Traore, whose shot was blocked by Wes Morgan.
With the clock showing 26 minutes, the Stamford Bridge faithful turned their attention away from the pitch.
John Terry’s name rang out, as well as fans displaying placards with his name and number, prompting a show of appreciation from the suspended captain – who was offered an extension to his expiring contract during the week.
The Chelsea players remained focused, however, and Traore was denied before Schmeichel produced a brilliant one-handed stop low to his left to keep Willian out.
In a busy end to the half for the Denmark international, he parried a 20-yard drive from Fabregas before punching a looping effort from Baba Rahman clear.
Ranieri introduced Schlupp and Okazaki for the second half, and it was an error from the Ghana winger that resulted in the opening goal.
Schlupp went to ground and cut down Matic inside the penalty area, with Fabregas stuttering in his run-up before sending the ball into the opposite corner to Schmeichel.
However, Drinkwater denied Chelsea the chance to send Hiddink off with three points, firing beyond Courtois with eight minutes remaining to end the champions’ season of highs on another positive.
Key Opta Stats:
– Only four Premier League champions have won the title by a greater margin of points than Leicester City (10) – Manchester United in 1999-2000 (18), Chelsea 2004-05 (12), Arsenal 2003-04 and Manchester United 2012-13 (11).
– Wes Morgan became the third outfield player in Premier League history to play every minute of a title-winning season (after Gary Pallister in 1992-93 and John Terry in 2014-15).
– Two of the three goals Leicester have scored from outside the area this season have been scored by Danny Drinkwater.
– Cesc Fabregas has scored once and assisted twice in four Premier League games v Leicester City in the Premier League.