Despite a brace from Diego Costa, Chelsea could not beat the promoted side Watford as the Boxing Day game ended in a thrilling 2-2 draw after Oscar missed a penalty with 10 minutes remaining in the game.
The new manager, Hiddnik, made a single change in his first game during the second spell at the club, replacing the highly favored Kurt Zouma with Garry Cahill. The Watford manager Flores also made a single change, which was enforced due to loan rules. Jose Holebas replaced Nathan Ake who was ineligible to play against his parent club.
The hosts had a promising start to the game and created a couple of chances within the first 10 minutes of game, but Costa headed a relatively easy chance over the bar and Willian saw his deflected freekick deflected from the post.
Chelsea pressed high in the first half and were rewarded through Diego Costa’s well taken volley in the 32nd minute before the Watford skipper Troy Deeny equalized ten minutes later. The pulsating game then took another turn when Watford took the lead in 56th minute through in form striker Obdi Ighalo, but a wonderful pass from Willian was put behind the net by a fine finish from Costa who equalized for Chelsea.
The substitute Hazard looked to have won the game for Chelsea when he won the penalty for the struggling blues but Oscar squandered the penalty hitting it over the bar making for a memorable draw in Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea, though looked animated in attack, were unable to come up with clear cut chances for large portions of the game before John Terry’s header deflected through Garry Cahill kindly fell to the feet of Diego Costa- the striker put a well-timed volley into the top corner of the net.
Oscar wasted a clear chance to add a double goal cushion soon after and Watford were afforded a lucky break by Nemanja Matic, who clearly handled the ball inside the penalty box. Troy Deeny then made no mistake from the spot to make the game 1-1.
Ighalo registered his 13th goal of the season through a huge deflection, which caught Curtois by complete surprise and to the despair of Stamford Bridge, took the lead in the first quarter of second half. But the excellent ball from Willian saw Diego Costa delightfully send it to the corner of the net to make it all square at the bridge.
The Diego Costa equalizer denied a historic win for visitors who had not registered a win in this ground for over two decades.
Last Season’s player of the year, Eden Hazard, made an immediate impact on the game after coming on as a substitute, winning a penalty with 10 minutes remaining, but Oscar failed to beat Watford keeper Gomes from 12 yards.
Just when Chelsea were looking to find some chemistry and Diego Costa was starting to find his last year’s form, more misery piled on them when Costa was shown a yellow card for a mistimed tackle on Craig Carthcart in the dying minutes of the game. The stint from Costa will cost him one match suspension against the next heavyweight clash with Manchester United – The fixture, which he also missed last season.
[Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images]