Chelsea’s Premier League title hopes continue to fade away as the Blues played out a 1-1 draw, their third draw in the last four games, with Brighton, thanks to a last gasp Danny Welbeck goal.
Even though Chelsea conceded the goal in the eleventh hour, they can’t claim that the visitors did not deserve it.
Graham Potter’s men fought toe to toe with the European champions and had their chances to claim all three points of the game.
Lukaku makes presence felt
Romelu Lukaku came back to the starting XI following a stellar display at Villa Park and marked his return with a goal.
The Belgian, making his start Premier League start since October, provided a focal point in Chelsea’s attack and made them appear more fluid going forward.
Mason Mount, who has been in red hot form lately, linked up well with Lukaku and created continuous problems for the Seagulls defence.
Lukaku’s presence allowed Mount to make some dangerous runs past the Brighton backline and Chelsea’s first attempt came through a combination between the two.
But, Robert Sanchez did well to deny Mount and keep the scoreline at 0-0.
Mount turned the provider as he whipped in a fantastic corner inside the Brighton box in the 28th minute, and Lukaku met it with a powerful header, putting enough force behind his attempt so that it could effortlessly sail past a helpless Sanchez.
The goal went through a lengthy VAR check before being awarded as Lukaku’s swinging arm hit Neal Maupay as he headed the ball into the goal.
The VAR officials did not find any wrongdoings and allowed the goal to stand, much to Brighton’s disapproval.
Reece James injury blow
Chelsea had just lost Reece James to injury when the goal went in.
James was having a troublesome time at left-back trying to contain the threat of Tariq Lamptey.
Being a right-footed player, James struggled to deal with a lively Lamptey, who ghosted past him several times.
The hosts failed to capitalize on the lead and take control of the game as the match approached half-time.
Antonio Rudiger was lucky to escape a red for his reckless challenge on Lamptey before Adam Lallana forced Edouard Mendy into action.
Brighton rightfully targeted the Chelsea wingbacks to unsettle the Chelsea backline as both Christian Pulisic and James Reece seemed uncomfortable to handle the threat of Brighton’s high-flying fullbacks.
Callum Hudson-Odoi had a forgettable outing, but he could have made the difference in the 55th minute as he charged forward in a counter-attack move, with only a defender and a keeper to beat.
But, his pass was nowhere near an onrushing Mount.
Brighton rewarded at end
Jakob Mouder, Neal Maupay, and Yves Bissouma went close to equalizing, but Chelsea held on to their lead till the 90th minute.
However, their resilience fell apart in stoppage time as Danny Welback, who came on 10 minutes before, rose above Trevor Chalobah and Rudiger to head a Marc Cucurella into the Chelsea net.
The result brought Chelsea to second place, but their gap with the league leaders Manchester City extended to eight points as the Citizens picked up a 1-0 away win at Brentford.
Manchester City are now runaway favourites in a title race that appeared to be a three-horse affair only a few weeks back.