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Gritty Swansea hold Chelsea to 1-1 draw as Blues drop to second place

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petr_cech1Chelsea's run of disappointing league form continued as they lost top spot in the Premier League table after a commendable performance from Swansea City, who showed great resolve to earn a 1-1 draw against the mighty European champions. The Welsh side were clearly better on the night as the Blues sorely missed their star performer Juan Mata.

The first half was a sordid affair as both sides lacked a cutting edge to convert their possession into chances. The second half was, however, an action packed one with Victor Moses scoring the opening goal with an intelligent header, after Cahill deflected Oscar's corner towards the Nigerian ace. The Blues seemed to become complacent with their lead and the Swans earned a deserved equaliser through Pablo Hernandez after having peppered Cech's goal. Swansea strung together a series of passes before the ball ended with late substitute Itay Shechter, who poked the ball back to Hernandez at the edge of the box and the Spaniard converted the chance with a well-taken effort.

Gerhard Tremmel continued to replace the injured Michel Vorm between the posts for Swansea, while Garry Monk started in central defence alongside Ashley Williams. Ki Sung-Yueng and Leon Britton were deployed midfield with Wayne Routledge replacing Nathan Dyer, who started on the bench. Danny Graham again made the bench with Pablo Hernandez and Michu handed the onus of attack against the Blues.

Chelsea’s squad saw a great number of changes from their last league outing against Manchester United. With John Terry suspended and David Luiz not fit for action, Branislav Ivanovic was moved into central defence with Cesar Azpilicueta taking up the right defensive role. Cole took back his left-back spot with Ryan Bertrand pushed to the bench. Young stars Oriol Romeu and Victor Moses started in midfield with Wednesday’s goalscorer Ramires named among the substitutes. Chelsea were forced to start without key performer Juan Mata, who put in 120 minutes against Man United in mid-week, while Oscar and Eden Hazard took up roles behind Spanish striker Fernando Torres.

Swansea started the game with a strong attacking intent and the effect of Mata's absence was evident on Chelsea's lacklustre attack. Swansea dominated possession well but failed to threaten Cech much.

Michu had the first real chance of the game on 13 minutes as he ran clear of the defence to get on the end of Hernandez's beautifully whipped cross but miscued his attempted volley as the ball flew out to the left wing far from any danger.

Hazard and Oscar attempted to take up the onus of attack but Swansea were more than up to the job as Tremmel had little to do in the first half. The Blues attempted to get ahead in the 26th minute with Torres playing Moses behind left-back Davies. The young forward turned and crossed the ball to Torres but the Spaniard's weak headed effort was easily collected by Tremmel.

Britton and Azpilicueta picked up first-half bookings as the game seemed to become an exercise in defensive play. The first 45 minutes were rather uneventful with Swansea showing a strong resolve to keep Chelsea's persistent attacks at bay. The Blues themselves looked like a shadow of their usual selves with fans sorely missing their top performer Mata.

Di Matteo was expected to make a change after a sloppy first half and the Italian did just that, bringing on Ramires for Romeu as Chelsea took to the pitch for the second half. The Blues attack showed greater promise in the second half with Hazard taking a powerful shot from the edge of the box towards the bottom corner, only for Tremmel to deny the Belgian with a strong save.

Chelsea launched yet another attack minutes later and this time Torres got deep into Swansea's box and lofted a cross into the middle. Moses jumped over the defence to latch on to the ball but his headed effort flew well over the crossbar. 

Swansea had a chance to go ahead after an hour, as Michu ran confidently past a host of Chelsea players to reach the edge of the box before Cahil stepped in with a vital tackle. The ball dropped back to Hernandez, who played the ball to Routledge but the midfielder slowed down before getting on to the end of the pass and Cole did well to clear the danger with a sliding tackle.

Chelsea took the lead with their next attack in the 61st minute as Oscar's corner was deflected well by Cahill into the middle. Moses made good contact with his head as the ball clipped the post and went into the net as the Blues went one up at the Liberty Stadium.

The goal brought on two Swansea substitutions with Dyer replacing a wasteful Routledge and Graham coming on in place of Britton at 65 minutes. Swansea launched a strong attempt with a neat interplay of passes in the 70th minute, with De Guzman forcing Cech into action with a curling effort. Di Matteo meanwhile took off Moses to introduce Sturridge into the attack.

Swansea were determined to get back in the game as Dyer took a long slamming shot at goal, but the Blues' keeper did enough to push the ball over the crossbar. The tempo of the game was affected severely after 75 minutes as the players were forced to continue the game through a heavy hailstorm.

Swansea though finally pulled drew level through Hernandez's curling effort that flew past Cech in the 87th minute. The Swans passed well around the Chelsea defence and the ball ended with Shechter, who was crowded out in the box and turned to return the ball to Hernandez who took a cool shot to score the equaliser for Swansea.

Chelsea made a last-ditch attempt to grab all three points but Swansea held on well to clinch a draw.

Michael Laudrup was a satisfied manager as the Swans took a well-deserved point against the Blues. A visit to Wales was expected to yield a routine victory for the Blues and morale will be at its lowest at Stamford Bridge as Chelsea now have to stabilise their European campaign when they host a formidable Shakhtar Donetsk side in mid-week.


Swansea: Gerhard Tremmel, Angel Rangel, Garry Monk, Ashley Williams, Ben Davies, Leon Britton (Danny Graham 65'), Ki Sung-Yueng, Jonathan de Guzman, Wayne Routledge (Nathan Dyer 65'), Pablo Hernandez, Michu (Itay Shechter 79')

Unused Subs: David Cornell, Alan Tate, Dwight Tiendalli, Kemy Agustien

Chelsea: Petr Cech, Cesar Azpilicueta, Branislav Ivanovic, Gary Cahill, Ashley Cole, Oriol Romeu (Ramires 46'), John Obi Mikel, Victor Moses (Daniel Sturridge 72'), Oscar (Ryan Bertrand 79'), Eden Hazard, Fernando Torres

Unused Subs: Ross Turnbull, Paulo Ferreira, Lucas Piazon, Marko Marin

Final Score: Swansea City 1-1 Chelsea (Moses 61', Hernandez 87')

File Photograph Copyright: Ryu Voelkel