By Paul Lagan at Stamford Bridge
Chelsea 2 v Wolves 2
Romelu Lukaku hit a brace as Chelsea imploded at the death to lose a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 against Wolves at Stamford Bridge.
The first half was devoid of much action but the second burst into life at times, sending each set of fans into choruses of delight one minute then into shrills of despair the next.
The final action saw a last-gasp header by centre-back Conor Coady to share the spoils for the visitors.
Lukaku, who last scored a League goal in December must have impressed the watching Todd Boehly who is days away from securing the purchase of Chelsea for £4.25billion.
But if he didn’t know already, then he does now, that this team is in serious need of reconstruction.
Arsenal and Spurs are still on Chelsea’s coat-tails as they seek to get into the top four, but they now have the prospect of overtaking Chelsea if the Blues succumb on Wednesday to Leeds United at Elland Road, and continue to put in poor performances in their final two home League games against Leicester City and Watford.
The first meaningful action took place on 10 mo utes when some excellent set-up ply saw Timo Werner pierce the Wolves defence. He took the ball slightly wide, but managed to get away a smart left-footer that Jose Sa did well to parry away.
Boehly the head of the consortium that hs all but bought Chelsea, watched down from the directors box.
He witnessed Romain Saiss almost putting the visitors ahead on 23 minutes when he was left alone as a left-sided free-kick arrowed across the six-yard box. Luckily for the Blues the ball hit the ground before bouncing over Mendy’s crossbar.
Werner had the ball in the back of the net on 34 minutes, smashing the ball past Sa, but the referee and linesman adjudged him to have fouled centre-back Saiss in the process.
Lukaku latched onto a deft chip by Mateo Kovacic, but Sa smothered the effort.
But a goal finally came when Ruben Loftus-Cheek tucked home from close range six minutes from the break.
However VAR intervened, and after a long wait, decided that the midfielder was offside when receiving the ball.
Chelsea should have gone into the break 1-0 down as first Mendy did well to parry a goal-bound effort by Neto, but the follow up was hacked over the crossbar by Leander Dendoncker.
Deep into added time, Sa managed to dive low to his right to snatch a fine twist and turn shot by Lukaku.
The last wayward effort fell to Rayan Ait-Nouri, who ran out of puff following a long run, and whacked the ball into the Matthew Harding stand.
Chelsea boss brought on Spaniard Saul for Marcos Alonso.
Within seconds of the restart, Werner forced a goal-saving dive to his left, this time, when Sa tipped away a close range effort.
A cheeky 25-yard bender of a free-kick by Reece James fooled Sa, but the effort, smacked into the side netting.
VAR was involved again, on 55 minutes, when Saiss looked to have clipped Lukaku at the edge of the penalty area and byline.
Referee Peter Bankes gave a goal kick but was asked by VAR to go to the monitor, and that means only one thing – a change of decision, in this case a penalty.
Up stepped Lukaku who send Sa the wrong way nestling the ball in the back of the net.
It was the Belgium’s first league goal since December 29 against Brighton.
If goals brings confidence, then it affected Lukaku straight away as a the very confident Lukaku, three minutes later, latched onto a ball by Christian Pulisic and Lukaku swiftly dispatched a fierce right-footer past Sa to double the score.
Playing footsie across the back four almost cost Chelsea as they lost possession – Mendy was on hand to smother Hwang Hee-Chan’s shot.
With 11 minutes left, the tide turned and the Blues looked shaky, Kovacic was easily disposed just outside Wolves area. They quickly countered and within 10 seconds the ball was in the back of Mendy’s net when substitute Francisco Trincao unleashed an unstoppable left-footer that sailed past Mendy.
The visitors thought they had a penalty a minute later when Jimenez hit the deck, Bankes was having none of it.
Trincao should have levelled when he jinked into the Chelsea area, but scuffed a shot which was deflected away for a corner.
Wolves were in full attack mode, and Chelsea struggled to cope.
But at the death, up stepped Conor Cody to head home a gasp-gasp close-range effort much to the delight of the travelling supporters.
Teams: Mendy, Rudiger, Alonso, Silva, Kovacic, Lukaku, Pulisic, Werner, Loftus-Cheek, James, Azpilicueta
Subs: Kepa, Christensen, Chalobah, Saul, Barkley, Mount, Ziyech, Havertz, Sarr
Wolves: Sa, Ait-Nouri, Neto, Neves, Jimenez, Boly, Coady, Jonny, Saiss, Moutinho, Dendoncker
Subs: Ruddy, Hoever, Marcal, Trincao, Silva, Chiquinho, Toti, Hee-Chan, Cundle