Brilliant Baggies claim share of spoils in capital
- McClean converts late leveller (86)
- Gardner bags from distance (33)
- Azpilicueta (20) and Kenedy (73) for Blues
- Attendance: 40,945
- Albion Man of the Match: Darren Fletcher
SUPER Albion served up one of their performances of the season to share the spoils with champions Chelsea in a Stamford Bridge cracker.
The Baggies twice came from behind with memorable goals from Craig Gardner and James McClean to cancel out home efforts from Cesar Azpilicueta and Kenedy.
Tony Pulis’s outfit were more than full value for their point, much to the delight of their faithful band of travelling fans who afforded the players a standing ovation at the finish.
Albion’s performance should leave the team looking onwards and upwards as it continued their rising form in the Barclays Premier League.
In a first half which flew by as both teams attacked with gusto, a promise-packed start by the visitors was rocked by Azpilicueta’s tap-in at the far post following a raking cross from Branislav Ivanovic on 20 minutes.
But the Baggies always looked to have goals in them and when it came it was special. Gardner, called into the fray early on when James Morrison limped away with a hamstring pull, lit up a superb individual display with 33rd minute 25-yarder which gave Thibaut Courtois no chance.
That half closed with Salomon Rondon shaving an upright with another tremendous effort as Albion took the game to Chelsea at every opportunity.
And they had the best chance of the early second-half action too with a McClean header, saved by Courtois, from more impressive work by Rondon.
But Albion had it all to do when Willian crossed for Chelsea sub Kenedy to score at the near post with 17 minutes remaining.
Their response, however, capped a terrific night when McClean beat Courtois with one of football’s rarities - a right-footed shot from the Irishman – which flew home from 20 yards in the 86th minute.
It was no more than Albion deserved from a hugely-impressive display littered with top performances – none better than the inspirational poise and drive from midfield by skipper Darren Fletcher.
CHELSEA: Courtois, Ivanovic, Terry, Zouma, Azpilicueta, Oscar, Mikel, Fabregas (Matic 78), Willian, Pedro (Kenedy 46), Diego Costa
Subs: Begovic, Ramires, Remy, Cahill, Loftus-Cheek
Bookings: Diego Costa (49, foul); Courtois (70, unsporting conduct); Azpilicueta (84, foul)
ALBION: Myhill, Dawson, McAuley, Olsson, Evans; Brunt, Yacob (Berahino 59), Fletcher, McClean, Morrison (Gardner 6), Rondon (Sessegnon 67).
Subs: Foster, Chester, Gardner, McManaman, Anichebe
Bookings: Yacob (25, foul); Myhill (68, time-wasting); McClean (70, unsporting conduct);
Referee: Anthony Taylor (Wythenshawe)