MATCH REPORT: WIGAN ATHLETIC 3 CHELSEA 1
Didier Drogba scored his 100th Chelsea goal but the winning run ended in a game in which Petr Cech was sent-off six minutes after half-time.
Drogba had become only the ninth Chelsea player to reach a century just five minutes before the red card and his side had looked all set-up for another strong second-half comeback.
Wigan who were achieving their first victory over one of the 'big four' had gone ahead with a Titus Bramble header 15 minutes in, a lead they kept to the interval and reflected a half in which Chelsea relied too heavily on finding Drogba early rather than creating genuine chances.
Once Cech, who had done his bit in keeping the margin down had gone and Wigan slotted the resultant penalty, odds were against an already under par Chelsea pulling the game around.
The game had actually started well, an unmarked Essien skimming a low volley that was pushed wide by Kirkland.
The team as expected reverted from the Carling Cup line-up to the one that had started the big win over Spurs. That was apart from the absence of Michael Ballack with a minor calf injury which meant a place for John Mikel Obi, Michael Essien moving forward to allow the Nigerian to play as the central anchor man.
Essien's early attempt was in the second minute and it the fifth, Anelka dragged a shot wide after Malouda poked a ball through the Wigan defence. Lampard then smacked a centrally-positioned free-kick at the Wigan keeper. Kirkland struggled with an open-play attempt by the same player on nine minutes but it rolled just wide.
All that good work stood for little though when Wigan went ahead on 15 minutes following a set-piece. A corner, played short, was crossed in by N'Zogbia and there was no stopping Bramble's powerful header; a goal fashioned by former Newcastle players. Not for the first time the much-maligned Bramble had caused Chelsea harm.
Wigan's defensive midfielder Thomas was shown the game's first card on 26 minutes when he tripped Drogba from behind as the Chelsea striker was winding up to shoot from distance, the ammo supplied by a delicate Mikel pass.
The free-kick by Drogba was blocked and then soon after there was an escape at the other end when Scharner shot over when teed-up in space.
Wigan were having too much success with short passes inside from wide positions, finding space between defence and midfield. Chelsea were grateful for a slip by Scharner when one such move looked to have set him on his way.
Anelka was moving wide and deep to collect the ball and try to get Chelsea going but with 35 minutes gone, Kirkland had still only made one save.
Cech however was called upon to make a good block at the near post from a close-range effort by Boyce as the ball bounced around the six-yard box. It had clearly been one of Chelsea's poorest halves of the season.
There was a half-time substitution - Mikel once again not completing a game in which he began, the manager later reporting he had taken an ankle knock. Belletti came on with Essien moving central and although the new player was not overtly involved in the rapid equaliser, whatever Ancelotti said or did in the dressing room he can claim made an impact.
Drogba this time did receive good service, Malouda playing the ball in low from the left and stabbing first time on-target. Kirkland could have stopped it but let it squirm around his ankles, the ball rolling in. Of his 100 goals, this was well-down for aesthetics but Drogba celebrated his landmark by holding the match ball aloft to show the Chelsea fans, as if a test match bowler after his fifth wicket.
Chelsea could have taken the lead just moments later, Kirkland this time saving low by his post from Malouda, but Wigan soon went up the other end and manufactured the game's big moment.
It was the impressive Rodallega, in this game playing wide rather than centre-forward, who was sent through into the area and as he took the ball beyond Cech, there was a collision of feet and referee Dowd decided instantly to awarded a penalty and show the Chelsea keeper a red card.
Substitute Hilario (Malouda the player sacrificed) was beaten from the spot by Rodallega. There were still 37 minutes to play.
Chelsea's 10-man response gave Drogba the ball back to goal but he bicycle-kicked it over.
Kalou came on for Bosingwa on 67 minutes with Belletti dropping to right-back. Carvalho was booked soon after for catching Rodallega late in the middle of the park.
Chelsea naturally attempted to press but were frequently back-peddling frantically as Wigan counter-attacked. Rodallega struck a free-kick a couple of yards over before a couple of chances were spurned by Kalou.
One was an air-kick when found in the area by Belletti, the other a shot on the run that flew well off-target.
Time was running out. Drogba did very well to cross on 82 minutes but a heavily-policed Lampard headed over.
Essien was the next Chelsea player booked for a foul in the Wigan half but that was only after the ref played on and the home team carelessly wasted a three on to two break.
With four minutes of normal time to go, John Terry played up field with a back three of Carvalho, Essien and Cole. That plan lasted just seconds as Cole was forced off with a painful knock to the knee, Chelsea completing the game with nine men.
Defeat was assured in the first minute of stoppage time when Scharner turned the ball in from a yard out after full-back Figueroa centred beyond Hilario.
Seven games into the season, the country's only 100 per cent start was at an end as the Blues left this stadium without three points for the first time. Down to second with Man United ahead on goal difference.
Chelsea (4-3-2-1): Cech; Bosingwa (Kalou 67), Carvalho, Terry (c), A Cole; Essien, Mikel (Belletti h-t), Lampard; Anelka, Malouda (Hilario 51); Drogba.
Scorer Drogba 46.
Sent-off Cech 50
Booked Carvalho 69, Essien 86
Wigan (4-2-3-1): Kirkland; Melchiot (c), Boyce, Bramble, Figueroa; Thomas, Diame; N'Zogbia, Scharner, Rodallega; Scotland (King 88).
Scorers Bramble 15, Rodallega 53, Scharner 90+1
Booked Thomas 26
The full 90 minutes will be on Chelsea TV from 6pm on Sunday.