Mame Biram Diouf secured Stoke City a deserved 1-1 draw against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge with an equalising header five minutes from full-time in the Premier League on Saturday.
Diouf, restored to the starting line-up by manager Mark Hughes, nodded home in the closing stages, cancelling out Bertrand Traore’s first-half strike to earn Stoke a first ever Premier League point on Chelsea’s home ground.
The defending Premier League champions were without Diego Costa – who has scored or assisted 12 goals in his last 10 Premier League appearances – due to a tendon injury, but Traore ensured his absence was not too sorely felt with a searing effort in the 39th minute.
Stoke played some impressive football in the second half as the game opened up, but Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois proved difficult to beat.
After Marko Arnautovic and Xherdan Shaqiri were denied by the Belgian, Diouf – who missed a pair of chances in the first half – finally breached the hosts’ backline in the 85th minute with his first strike for the Potters since September.
The draw leaves Stoke in seventh position, while Chelsea sit 10th following a seventh draw in 12 Premier League matches since Guus Hiddink’s return to the helm.
With one eye perhaps on the Champions League round-of-16 second leg at home to Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday, Hiddink opted to name Cesc Fabregas on the bench and deploy John Obi Mikel in midfield, while Baba Rahman returned and Willian was restored to the line-up due to Costa’s enforced absence.
Chelsea may have been ruing the loss of the Spain international when Traore failed to take advantage of a fourth-minute cross from Cesar Azpilicueta, and the defending Premier League champions’ early momentum ebbed away.
Ibrahim Afellay forced Courtois into a diving save with a powerful 20-yard strike, before his brilliant cross with the outside of his right boot following a rapid break was steered narrowly over by Diouf in the 21st minute.
The Senegalese striker was unable to hit the target when presented with his next opportunity, scuffing wide after another counter-attacking move, and the deadlock was broken six minutes before the interval.
Traore was afforded space 20 yards from goal by the Stoke defence and he used it to drill a brilliant effort inside the far post.
There were chances at both ends within five minutes of the restart. Arnautovic’s swinging drive was palmed away by Courtois, before Eden Hazard’s cross-goal strike arrowed wide.
Stoke continued to threaten and came close to a 59th-minute equaliser when Courtois got down to his left to parry Shaqiri’s effort behind.
Chelsea responded well as the game opened up, but Jack Butland was equal to efforts from Willian and Gary Cahill.
Traore made way for Loic Remy with 22 minutes remaining, and Stoke took control of possession as they stepped up their attempt to find an equaliser.
Referee Mark Clattenberg gave Erik Pieters a reprieve by not showing him a second yellow card for a foul on Oscar, and Stoke pulled level with five minutes remaining.
Diouf headed the ball into the back of the net after Courtois failed to adequately clear Shaqiri’s cross, but the Belgian produced a stoppage-time save to deny substitute Bojan a last-gasp winner.