Sheffield United produced a stunning second half comeback to draw 2-2 with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Saturday afternoon.
The Blues led 2-0 at half-time thanks to two goals from Tammy Abraham but Callum Robinson pulled a goal back for the visitors 60 seconds into the second half. The Blades remained a threat throughout the second period and they were rewarded for their persistence when Kurt Zouma turned the ball past Kepa Arrizabalaga in the 89th minute to make it 2-2
Abraham opened the scoring after 19 minutes, a move started in midfield by a back-heel from Ross Barkley and finished clinically after a mistake by Blades goalkeeper Henderson. Christian Pulisic, who was threatening in the first half, collected Barkley’s flick, drove forward and found Cesar Azpilicueta advancing on the right. Abraham climbed to reach the cross from the Chelsea captain but his header lacked power.
It really ought to have been collected by Henderson but the ‘keeper, under pressure from Pulisic, lost his focus as if waiting for the impact of a collision and spilled a rebound back into the middle of the penalty area.
Abraham pounced onto the bobbling ball and volleyed it into the net. It was a fine example of confident penalty box finishing and gave Chelsea control in a pleasing contest which had yielded few incidents There were similar themes involved in his second, scored two minutes before half-time, another emphatic strike after more confusion in the heart of Sheffield United’s defence. This time central defenders Jack O’Connell and John Egan failed to communicate and inexplicably challenged each other in the air for a simple pass chipped forward by Jorginho.
The outcome was a glance off the head of Egan and another chance for Abraham who slammed it past Henderson, his former England Under-21 international teammate.
It was a reminder for Chris Wilder of the exacting standards of the Premier League. Errors are punished by the best strikers in the top flight and chances have to be taken.
The visitors were only a goal down when Robinson missed a wonderful chance to haul them level. Chris Basham tore out of defence and cross on the volley from the right and Robinson was alone at the back post when the ball reached him. He dived to head but somehow his effort skidded wide.
Robinson did make amends when he reduced the deficit with the second half less than a minute old. Enda Stevens carved through the right side of Chelsea’s defence and rolled a pass square to Robinson who punched a firm side-footer past Kepa Arrizabalaga and into the net from six yards.
It was a first ever Premier League goal for a player who started out at Aston Villa and cost the Blades £7million from Preston at the end of last season and it provided a test of character for Lampard’s young team.
While they have proved creative up front they have leaked chances at the back. Fikayo Tomori had been selected ahead of Andreas Christensen at centre-half, the only change made by Lampard to the team which started a 3-2 win at Norwich and one that produced a Chelsea team with an average age of less than 25 years, their lowest ever in a Premier League fixture. Highly-rated teenager Billy Gilmour came off the bench to make his debut in the closing minutes.
Henderson denied Abraham a hat-trick with a terrific save low to his right and then kept out a drive from Barkley as the visitors took more risks and opened the game up. Tomori showed his speed and awareness to make a vital clearance to prevent Robinson reaching an O’Connell cross. Kepa saved a sweet strike from Oliver Norwood and a deflected shot by Stevens but could do nothing as he was beaten in the closing moments by Zouma’s deflection.