Wolves captain Conor Coady headed a dramatic 97th-minute equaliser to deny Chelsea victory on the day the sale of the club was agreed.
With Todd Boehly – the man leading the consortium’s purchase – watching on at Stamford Bridge, Romelu Lukaku looked to have secured victory for the Blues with two goals in three second-half minutes.
But Wolves substitute Francisco Trincao pulled one back with a spectacular effort 11 minutes from time and Coady headed in to level seven minutes into added time.
The Blues’ future is now seemingly resolved and despite their late collapse the point edges them closer to a Champions League spot – they remain third with three games to play, six points clear of fifth-placed Tottenham, who visit Liverpool later.
Wolves’ late comeback means they ended a run of three successive Premier League defeats and stay eighth.
The news of one of the most expensive deals in sports history broke early on Saturday morning in the UK and Chelsea says the sale is expected to be completed in late May, following the sanctions imposed on Roman Abramovich.
Boehly, who also co-owns the LA Dodgers baseball team, was present in west London to witness his first game as the prospective new buyer and stood to applaud when Ruben Loftus-Cheek hooked in from close range after Marcos Alonso’s corner pinballed around the box and found the midfielder via Lukaku’s knee in the first half.
But the American businessman, shades on and coffee in hand, could do nothing more than shrug after VAR took a considerable amount of time to rule the goalscorer offside.
Tuchel said beforehand the deal was “good news” but that his side did not need any extra motivation to bounce back from the defeat by Everton last Sunday, and they had already had an attempt from Timo Werner ruled out for a foul on Romain Saiss before Loftus-Cheek’s effort.
Werner began in attack alongside Lukaku, who was handed his second league start since February after Tuchel insisted he wanted the forward to be “a very important part of the squad next season”.
All five of Lukaku’s top-flight goals since his £97.5m summer move from Inter Milan had come in 2021 and the striker’s only touch in the opening 15 minutes of this one was a blocked shot inside the Wolves box.
But he became more of a presence as the fixture unfolded and, after outmuscling Saiss, was then brought down just inside the box by a clumsy challenge from the Wolves defender.
Lukaku converted the penalty himself to put Chelsea in front in the 56th minute for his first league goal of 2022 and soon added his second with a clever first-time right-foot finish from Christian Pulisic’s pass.
That should have wrapped up a victory that would have virtually guaranteed Chelsea’s presence in next season’s Champions League, but Tuchel’s side showed their vulnerability – 13 of the last 15 league goals they have conceded have come in the second half – and their winless run in the Premier League now stretches to three games.
Wolves’ promising first season under Bruno Lage is in danger of stumbling to an unsatisfactory finish, but the manner of this draw will have lifted the mood at Molineux.
With 11 minutes of normal time remaining, the visitors were staring at a fourth successive defeat without scoring a goal.
But Trincao’s superb curling effort from outside the box gave Wolves hope and they then had a flurry of chances to level before Coady rose highest to head Chiquinho’s cross beyond Edouard Mendy and spark huge celebrations in the away end.
Boss Lage had to watch from home after returning a positive Covid test, but his side’s substitutions proved crucial with both goalscorer Trincao and Chiquinho, who got both assists, brought on with Wolves 2-0 down.
With three games remaining, the Wolves still have the chance to secure European football next term but must navigate a tricky run-in that includes facing both Manchester City and Liverpool.
source – BBC