FROM STAMFORD BRIDGE – Frank Lampard is still without a home win as Chelsea caretaker manager after his side were held to a 2-2 draw by Nottingham Forest.
The Blues did well to come from a goal down and go ahead on Saturday but ultimately their lack of cohesion cost them once again.
Steve Cooper’s men are now three points clear of the relegation zone with just two matches left to play.
After a quiet opening 12 minutes, Forest took the lead with the first half-chance of the game. Mateo Kovacic was robbed of possession by Orel Mangala and the ball fell kindly to Renan Lodi. His deep cross was too teasing for Edouard Mendy, who raced off his line to try and pluck it out of the sky, only to be beaten to it by Taiwo Awoniyi and the Nigerian headed into an empty net.
Chelsea spurned a great opportunity to equalise in the minutes after going behind. Enzo Fernandez’s long ball over the Forest backline was brought down well by Raheem Sterling, but he was denied by a last-ditch tackle from Joe Worrall.
The hosts were let off the hook when Noni Madueke cheaply gave the ball away in his own half and allowed Brazilian pair Danilo and Lodi through to goal, only for Trevoh Chalobah to retreat and block the ball behind.
Just after the half-hour mark, Lewis Hall managed to skip away from Serge Aurier and place a cross onto the head of Joao Felix, but his looping effort was well held by Keylor Navas.
Forest went close to adding a second soon after the restart. A corner was flicked on by Felipe and into the path of Moussa Niakhate, who was somehow unable to convert at the far post, slicing an effort wide.
And the visitors were made to pay for their wastefulness as Chelsea equalised with their next attack. Chalobah’s cutback from the byline deflected off Ryan Yates and into the path of Sterling, whose shot came off the same unfortunate midfielder and nestled in the top corner.
That goal seemed to wake up the sleeping Blues, with Felix going close twice before the hour mark. He headed into the side-netting from a Hall free-kick before his speculative 25-yard strike landed on top of the net.
Their adventurousness was rewarded when Sterling fired them ahead. Ruben Loftus-Cheek carried the ball forward with pace and drive, teeing up the England winger on the edge of the box, and his curling shot found the far corner.
A back-and-forth contest swung the way of Forest again, though. Chelsea failed to deal with a long throw and Mangala was able to loop the ball beyond a sleeping Blues defence, with Awoniyi heading in at the far post. The goal was allowed to stand following a brief VAR check for offside to the disbelief and annoyance of home fans.
Cooper’s side nearly found themselves ahead when a corner bounced all the way to Lodi on the edge of the box, but his fierce half-volley drifted inches wide.
Forest sat in for five minutes of stoppage time at the end of the second half and managed to keep Chelsea at bay, taking a valuable point back to the City Ground.
The Blues are now almost guaranteed to finish the season as the Premier League’s lowest-ranking west London points, sitting eight and seven points adrift of Fulham and Brentford respectively.
GK: Edouard Mendy – 3/10 – Given a chance to prove his worth in place of Kepa Arrizabalaga and blew it. Still has the same problems trying to claim crosses.
RB: Trevoh Chalobah – 7/10 – Made an impact at both ends of the pitch, sweeping up others’ errors and playing a part for Sterling’s equaliser.
CB: Thiago Silva – 4/10 – Hailed with two banners at either end of Stamford Bridge pre-match, but did not look like his usual reliable self over the 90 minutes. Hassled continuously by Awoniyi on a testing afternoon.
CB: Benoit Badiashile – 5/10 – Had a little more joy in physical duels with Awoniyi. Calm on the ball despite the madness of the match.
LB: Lewis Hall – 6/10 – Impressed in his first appearance since January. Fearless on the ball, even if he did play Chelsea into trouble once or twice.
CM: Conor Gallagher – 6/10 – Chelsea’s best player in the first half with a series of excellent tackles. Wasn’t as effective after the break but still got himself into good positions high up the pitch.
CM: Enzo Fernandez – 6/10 – Tried to pick the lock with his excellent range of passing, though was often unsuccessful. Got frustrated at his lack of options a lot of the time.
CM: Mateo Kovacic – 4/10 – Provided little before succumbing to an injury. Was dispossessed in the lead up to Forest’s opener.
RW: Noni Madueke – 6/10 – Linked up well with Chalobah down the right and was not afraid to try and beat a man or attempt the odd flick and trick. Still raw but the talent is there.
CF: Joao Felix – 5/10 – Poor guy is just obviously not a striker. Carried the ball well outside the box but found it harder to make an impact inside it.
LW: Raheem Sterling – 9/10 – Played at walking pace in the first 45 before taking the game by the scruff of the neck, rediscovering his eye for goal and ability to actually beat a man.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek (45′ for Kovacic) – 7/10 – Unlike Kovacic, Loftus-Cheek showed a desire to take the ball and progress it one way or another.
Kai Havertz (73′ for Felix) – 5/10
Hakim Ziyech (73′ for Madueke) – 6/10
Frank Lampard – 5/10 – Chelsea looked unorganised in the first half but whatever he said at the break clearly had some impact.
GK: Keylor Navas – 5/10 – Not much he could have done about either goal. Made a decent save from Felix’s header in the first half but that was about it.
CB: Joe Worrall – 6/10 – Defended with vigour. Often came to Forest’s rescue when Chelsea threatened.
CB: Felipe – 6/10 – Similarly loved the defensive battle, getting his head on nearly everything the Blues threw Forest’s way.
CB: Moussa Niakhate – 4/10 – Did not look comfortable at any point. Dissected by Chalobah and Madueke.
RM: Serge Aurier – 4/10 – Torn to pieces by Hall, whether getting tight to him or letting the youngster run.
CM: Orel Mangala – 7/10 – One assist and one pre-assist. Not bad for a player who sometimes struggles to keep hold of the ball.
CM: Ryan Yates – 5/10 – Two unfortunate deflections off of the lanky midfielder led to Chelsea’s equaliser.
LM: Renan Lodi – 7/10 – Excellent going forward, though this did mean there was sometimes space in behind for the hosts to attack.
RF: Morgan Gibbs-White – 7/10 – Chelsea found it hard to read the ingenuity of Gibbs-White, who popped up all over the pitch linking play for his side and disrupting it for the Blues.
LF: Danilo – 6/10 – Pushed up higher in the absence of Johnson from the off. Drove at the heart of Chelsea but would sometimes find himself without support.
CF: Taiwo Awoniyi – 9/10 – Peaking just in time to try and save Forest’s season. Bullied his veteran marker in Silva and came up trumps with two huge goals.
Brennan Johnson (82′ for Awoniyi) – N/A
Cheikhou Kouyate (85′ for Yates) – N/A
Harry Toffolo (90′ for Danilo) – N/A
Steve Cooper – 7/10 – Forest were not overawed by the occasion despite their horrendous away record.