Danny Welbeck scores for Brighton against Chelsea
Danny Welbeck scored his second Premier League goal of the season

Substitute Danny Welbeck scored a dramatic stoppage-time equaliser for Brighton to deny Chelsea victory and deal a blow to their hopes of keeping pace with Manchester City at the top of the Premier League.

Chelsea looked set to move three points clear of fellow title contenders Liverpool when Romelu Lukaku marked his first top-flight start for two months by giving his side a lead, which they held until the 91st minute.

Brighton carved out 18 chances in total at Stamford Bridge but looked set for disappointment before Welbeck met Marc Cucurella’s chipped cross.

On a bad night for Chelsea, they also lost defenders Reece James and Andreas Christensen to injury.

They head into 2022 second in the table – one point above third-placed Liverpool, who they face on Sunday at Stamford Bridge (16:30 GMT).

But they trail Manchester City by eight points after Pep Guardiola’s side won 1-0 at Brentford.

Chelsea blow it at the death

On what felt like a pivotal night in the title race, Chelsea closed 2021 – a year to remember thanks to their Champions League triumph – on a disappointing note.

The mood was upbeat when Lukaku scored for the second successive game.

After coming off the bench to inspire the Blues to victory at Aston Villa on Sunday, he marked his first league start since 16 October with a busy performance capped by his first-half header.

Yet Chelsea could not hold out for victory and have now dropped 11 points from their last eight league games, with three draws in their last four matches.

Another concern for Tuchel will be the mounting injuries, with England defender James, who limped off in the first half, and Denmark defender Christensen, who did not appear for the second half, joining the list of casualties.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek (ankle) and Thiago Silva (hamstring) missed this game along with Ben Chilwell, who is to undergo surgery. In addition, Timo Werner has not played since 11 December after testing positive for coronavirus, while N’Golo Kante came off the bench despite suffering a knee injury against Villa.

With Chelsea facing six matches in the Premier League, Carabao Cup and FA Cup in January, they can ill afford any more absences among key players.

While the sight of Lukaku celebrating in front of Chelsea fans was pleasing for Tuchel, the German could now be forced to turn to the transfer window to ensure his side stays in the hunt for trophies.

Deserved point for battling Brighton

On 26 December, Brighton gave their fans a late Christmas present by breaking their 12-match winless run in all competitions with a 2-0 victory over Brentford.

And their travelling supporters were jubilant again after Welbeck’s equaliser – the first time Brighton have scored at Stamford Bridge – sealed a thoroughly deserved point.

It was Welbeck’s second Premier League goal against Chelsea, 11 years and 45 days since netting on his first appearance against them in the competition in November 2010.

Brighton, who end the calendar year 10th in the table, looked set for disappointment as Adam Lallana, Yves Bissouma and Alexis Mac Allister were all denied by Edouard Mendy.

In addition, Jakub Moder clipped the roof of Chelsea’s net and Neal Maupay also went close before Welbeck scored in front of Brighton’s supporters.

It is their ninth draw in 18 league games, and the Seagulls head into 2022 in confident mood and with 10 more points than they had at this stage last season.

Player of the match

WelbeckDanny Welbeck

Chelsea

  1. Squad number9Player nameLukaku

  2. Squad number19Player nameMount

  3. Squad number7Player nameKanté

  4. Squad number16Player nameMendy

  5. Squad number2Player nameRüdiger

  6. Squad number28Player nameAzpilicueta

  7. Squad number24Player nameJames

  8. Squad number4Player nameChristensen

  9. Squad number14Player nameChalobah

  10. Squad number10Player namePulisic

  11. Squad number8Player nameKovacic

  12. Squad number20Player nameHudson-Odoi

  13. Squad number3Player nameAlonso

  14. Squad number5Player nameJorginho

Brighton & Hove Albion

  1. Squad number18Player nameWelbeck

  2. Squad number8Player nameBissouma

  3. Squad number3Player nameCucurella

  4. Squad number2Player nameLamptey

  5. Squad number14Player nameLallana

  6. Squad number20Player nameMarch

  7. Squad number33Player nameBurn

  8. Squad number34Player nameVeltman

  9. Squad number10Player nameMac Allister

  10. Squad number17Player nameAlzate

  11. Squad number1Player nameSánchez

  12. Squad number12Player nameMwepu

  13. Squad number15Player nameModer

  14. Squad number9Player nameMaupay

Line-ups

Chelsea

Formation 3-4-2-1

  • 16Mendy
  • 28Azpilicueta
  • 4ChristensenSubstituted forChalobahat 45′minutes
  • 2RüdigerBooked at 41mins
  • 10Pulisic
  • 8KovacicBooked at 58mins
  • 5Jorginho
  • 24JamesSubstituted forAlonsoat 27′minutes
  • 19MountBooked at 81mins
  • 20Hudson-OdoiBooked at 64minsSubstituted forKantéat 67′minutes
  • 9Lukaku

Substitutes

  • 1Arrizabalaga
  • 3Alonso
  • 7Kanté
  • 14Chalobah
  • 17Saúl
  • 18Barkley
  • 22Ziyech
  • 29Havertz
  • 31Sarr

Brighton

Formation 3-4-2-1

  • 1Sánchez
  • 34Veltman
  • 33Burn
  • 3Cucurella
  • 2LampteySubstituted forMwepuat 66′minutes
  • 14Lallana
  • 8BissoumaBooked at 81mins
  • 20March
  • 15ModerSubstituted forAlzateat 88′minutes
  • 10Mac AllisterSubstituted forWelbeckat 80′minutes
  • 9Maupay

Substitutes

  • 4Webster
  • 12Mwepu
  • 13Groß
  • 17Alzate
  • 18Welbeck
  • 23Steele
  • 24Duffy
  • 30Richards
  • 58Ferguson

Referee:
Mike Dean

Attendance:
40,080

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