By Paul Lagan
Chelsea 2 v WBA 5
Chelsea’s hold on Champions League qualification next season was thrown into disarray with a humbling and embarrassing 5-2 defeat at home to relegation-haunted WBA at this afternoon.
Fourth-place Blues started well and took the lead through Christian Pulisic before skipper Thiago Silva was sent off for two bookable offences and then collapsed, giving away four goals to second-bottom Baggies, before Mason Mount tucked home an inconsequential second.
They added salt to the already septic wounds, when Robinson notched his second and WBA’s fifth deep into added time.
The lacklustre display will have been recognised by former bosses Frank Lampard and Mauricio Sarri who ultimately paid the price for not halting displays like this.
This was the first defeat under new boss Thomas Tuchel.
A host of unforced errors characterised the opening of Chelsea’s play against relegation-haunted WBA who were content to sit back and defend.
But on 12 minutes Marcus Alonso broke the rearguard and managed to get a shot on target, but Sam Johnstone was equal to the task.
Branislav Ivanovic entered the fray on 24 minutes replacing injured O’Shea.
The 37 year old played for the Blues for nine years making more than 377 appearances for Chelsea.
But he could do nothing about Chelsea’s goal on 28 minutes, when a brilliant curling free-kick smacked off Johnstone’s left post and Christian Pulisic cooly slotted home.
Disaster struck for Thiago Silva two minutes later, when, already booked he dived in for a reckless challenge on the edge of his penalty area and was rightly given a second yellow and red card.
Head coach Thomas Tuchel sacrificed Hakim Ziyech to bring in centre-back Andreas Christensen.
Ivanovic lasted just 12 minutes when he was forced off with a muscle injury having chased down Timo Werner. He was replaced by Callum Robinson.
Reece James hit a powerful shot, but it was straight at Johnstone.
It got worse from that point on for the home side.
Chelsea were suckered deep into added time when a simple kick out from Johnstone, saw Pereira beat the offside trap as they pushed up and he lobbed Mendy to equalise.
Seconds later Phillips cut in from the right, on the edge of the Chelsea area and curled a perfect left footer over Mendy and into his met. But the ball clipped off the crossbar. But the Blues gave the lead away and Pereira tucked home a low left-footer to put the Baggies into the lead with the last kick of the half.
Tuchel decided to bring on Mason Mount at half-time, leaving Pulisic in the changing room.
Alonso rattled the post after a period of early second half pressure for the home side, desperate not to allow the visitors to increase in confidence that the shock first half score gave them. It failed miserably.
Zouma’s cushioned volley inched over the crossbar from a James corner on 59 minutes.
Pereira almost notched his hat-trick on 62 minutes, but his low, left-footer was well blocked by Mendy.
But it was Robinson who hit the third a minute later when a quick break saw the striker thump a wonderful volley just inside the Blues penalty area.
It got worse for court-placed Chelsea on 68 minutes, when a quick break saw the Baggies hit number four when a straightforward drive by
Mount forced Johnstone into a fine save seconds later.
But Mount did score on 71 minutes when Alonso zipped cross a left byline cross. Werner trapped the ball and tapped it to in-running Mount who slotted home to make it 2-4.
Zouma had a great chance to score number three, but a half-volley from close range was thumped over the crossbar.
Robinson notched his second deep into added time and WBA’s fifth, when he beat the offside trap and clipped the ball home from a tight angle.
Chelsea face Portuguese outfit Porto on Wednesday in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-final in Seville, Spain.
Teams: Chelsea, Mendy, Azpilicueta, Silva, Zouma, Alonso, James, Jorginho, Kovacic, Pulisic, Ziyech, Werner.
Subs: Kepa, Christensen, Rudiger, Chilwell, Gilmour, Mount, Havertz, Hudson-Odoi, Giroud
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