By Mike Collett
Chelsea wasted chance after chance and had to settle for a 1-1 draw with Schalke 04 in their opening Champions League Group G match at Stamford Bridge that made a mockery of both teams’ early season form.
Cesc Fabregas scored his first goal for Chelsea to put them ahead after 11 minutes but the London side, who have won all four Premier League games, were pegged back when Klaas-Jan Huntelaar scored a superb equaliser for Schalke, who are without a win in Germany this season.
Fabregas was fortunate Croatian referee Ivan Bebek allowed play to continue after he appeared to foul Max Meyer at the start of the move that led to his goal, which came when he fired past goalkeeper Ralf Fahrmann with a lofted angled drive.
Didier Drogba wasted a great chance to seal victory for Chelsea but justice appeared to be done when Fabregas lost the ball at the start of the move that led to Schalke’s 62nd minute equaliser, which Huntelaar fired in from the edge of the box.
“We had more than a couple of fantastic chances to win the game but we got a point. It is not the best result but it is a result,” Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho told Sky Sports.
“In the second half they scored, we had a good reaction and I have nothing to complain about with my players.
“(Drogba) missed the goal by a few inches and that would have been 2-0 but football is like this. Didier Drogba is not crying because of that miss.”
Chelsea dominated for much of the match and should have gone into the break with two goals on the board but, after scoring in the 11th minute, Fabregas was guilty of a bad miss in the 37th when he skied the ball over the bar from 10 metres out.
Suddenly Schalke, who had been second-best, and understandably cautious after losing 3-0 home and away to Chelsea in the group stage last season, came to life and had two good chances of their own in the last few minutes of the half.
Kevin-Prince Boateng forced Thibaut Courtois into a diving save with a swerving shot smashed with the outside of his right foot, before Julian Draxler fired wide with the goal gaping just before the half ended.
Drogba, making his first start since returning to Chelsea, should have doubled their lead after 60 minutes but saw his angled drive go past the far post before Loic Remy, who had only replaced Drogba a few minutes earlier, saw a shot headed off the line by Roman Neustadter.
Eden Hazard then had two more opportunities to win it for Chelsea but even the introduction of Diego Costa, who had scored seven goals in his first four games, could not break the deadlock after coming on in the 73rd minute.