- Albion 1, Chelsea 1
Adam Webster's sizzling second half header ensured Albion deservedly took a point off reigning European champions Chelsea at the Amex on Tuesday.
Hakim Ziyech put the visitors ahead with a low drive midway through the first half, but Albion responded on the hour, when Webster's thumping header ensured Graham Potter's men's unbeaten run against London opposition this campaign continued.
The Albion head coach made three changes from the side that drew with Crystal Palace last Friday. Tariq Lamptey, Steven Alzate and Danny Welbeck, who was making his first home start since the 2-1 win over Leicester, came in for Neal Maupay, Leandro Trossard and the injured Adam Lallana.
Thrown into Potter’s selection headache was the absence of key players such as Lewis Dunk, Shane Duffy and Yves Bissouma, but Albion’s electric start allayed any concern Albion were short on quality.
Jakub Moder dragged an effort narrowly wide from Welbeck’s smart flick after three minutes, before the pair combined again but this time Kepa Arrizabalaga was on hand to spare Chelsea’s blushes with a well-timed dive on the loose ball.
Chelsea retaliated with a stinging drive from Cesar Azpiliqueta that Rob Sanchez smartly palmed over, with Albion returning the fire with a well-worked move down the right, but Alexis Mac Allister’s effort was well blocked by Toni Rudiger.
Welbeck misfired from a good position when he was played in by Alzate and Albion were immediately punished, as Hakim Ziyech’s low drive from the edge of the box beat Sanchez at his near-post.
Despite the blow, Albion were quickly back into their rhythm as they looked for a way through.
Pascal Gross’s defence-splitting pass found Welbeck in the opening 30 seconds of the second half but the forward slipped and his effort sailed high and wide of the Chelsea goal.
With the hour mark approaching, Kepa’s diving safe to tip Mac Allister’s deflected effort wide appeared to keep Albion at bay, but the visitors’ resistance was finally broken from the resulting corner.
Mac Allister’s ball in was met by an unmarked Webster, and his thumping header got Albion deservedly on level terms.
From that point on Chelsea had the bit between their teeth, as Mateo Kovacic hammered over before Marcos Alonso curled an effort just off target.
Albion set themselves up to counter with the introduction of Maupay and Trossard, but in the end a point was more than a fair return for a good evening's work at the Amex.
Potter's men are next in action this Sunday, when they travel to Leicester City.
Albion: Sanchez, Lamptey (March 76), Cucurella, Webster ©, Mac Allister, Gross (Maupay 62), Moder, Alzate, Welbeck (Trossard 62), Burn, Veltman.
Unused subs: Scherpen, McGill, March, Caicedo, Roberts, Leonard, Ferguson.