MATCH REPORT: SWANSEA CITY 1 CHELSEA 1
Victor Moses with a second-half header gave the Blues the lead but a late Swansea equaliser means we slip from the top of the table on a wintry afternoon in Wales.
The crisp, attacking football of much of this season was infrequently seen as the effects of recent games may have taken their toll and both keepers had an easy job in a near chanceless first half.
Chelsea were better after the break and although Swansea were bright at times, once the lead had been established with a set-piece goal and Petr Cech had made a couple of saves, the three points looked London-bound, but Spaniard Pablo Hernandez finished a good move and we failed to win a league game in which we had opened the scoring for the first time this season.
Swansea replaced injured goalkeeper Michael Vorm with Gerhard Tremmel. Central defender Chico Flores had not recovered from a dead leg so was replaced by Garry Monk.
With Manchester United beating Arsenal in the lunchtime kick-off, Chelsea need to return to winning ways in the league in order to maintain our place at the top of the table. For much of the opening 45 minutes the signs didn't look too promising. There was never going to be the frequency of goals in this one as in the previous two matches.
Swansea full-back Angel Rangel made an early run outside of Cole and took a smart reverse pass from Pablo Hernandez in his stride but with opportunity to pick out Michu in a very dangerous position, the Spaniard couldn't deliver and the leg of Ivanovic stretched out to cut it out.
Oscar scuffed a Chelsea free-kick into the wall but a genuine Chelsea chance was a while in coming. On 11 minutes, Moses dropped a shoulder and won a corner that Torres was able to meet with a flick at the near post but Ivanovic just couldn't quite reach it sliding in at the far post, and the ball was cleared off the line by Leon Britton who had been stationed there.
At the other end, Michu couldn't make the most of a difficult volley chance when a cross found him between Ivanovic and Azpilicueta.
Swansea were linking their passes better in the Chelsea half than we were in theirs. A long ball towards Torres fell back to Hazard just outside the area who took a touch but fired over.
Midway through the half Moses was unfortunate to slip on turf that had taken a pre-match soaking by the rain just as Oscar and Hazard had passes through the centre of the Swansea side.
Three minutes later, the lively Moses was played into space inside the area by Torres and clipped a cross back that was knocked out in the direction of Torrres. His header back lacked the necessary power to trouble the Swans' second-choice keeper.
Chelsea had enjoyed our best five-minute spell but then the home side pegged us back again and Mikel was sharp to block a shot by Ki Sung-Yueng. Swansea corners were survived before Chelsea improved towards the break.
Hazard was looking our player most likely to spark something good and on 36 minutes a trip on him by Britton earned the Swansea midfielder the game's first booking, to the discontent of the home fans who felt Mikel should have seen a card a few minutes earlier.
The card count was evened up on 38 minutes when Azpilicueta fouled Davies inside the Swansea half.
Just before the interval there was a rare chance in this game for Chelsea to counter-attack into space. Hazard played a pass out to Torres but the striker was dispossessed inside the area.
Ramires was a direct replacement for Romeu at the start of the second period, the Brazilian hopefully able to bring some forward momentum to Chelsea's play.
The first thrust came without his involvement though as Swansea lost the ball on halfway which led to a Hazard run and shot, gathered lowdown at his post by Tremmel. Then Torres chipped a cross over towards the back post but Moses couldn't keep his header down. That was the best Chelsea chance so far.
On 52 minutes it was Swansea's turn to break but diligent defending by Cahill with a vital tackle on Michu and then by Cole, kept Chelsea on level terms.
Swansea, as at similar stage in the first-half, were looking sharper in attack and Cech needed to dive at the feet of Michu as the home side passed through our defence.
Just before the hour, Britton fouled Oscar unnecessarily and with a well-struck free-kick, Hazard drew a diving save from Tremmel. From the corner that followed, Chelsea found the net.
Gary Cahill, such a threat at corners ever since he joined the club, towered above the white shirts to head Oscar's delivery goalwards and Moses reacted quickly to nod it into the net, celebrating his second Chelsea goal with a slide in front of the Blues following behind the goal.
Swansea responded strongly however. Cech saved a first-time strike by De Guzman and soon after had to back-peddle and punch over a deceiving chip by substitution Nathan Dyer.
Between those attempts, Roberto Di Matteo made his first substitution with 72 minutes played, Sturridge coming on for goalscorer Moses and playing wide on the right.
The main attempts on goal since Chelsea went ahead continued to come from Swansea and Ivanovic was in the right place at the right time to block from Hernandez as some filthy, wintery hail fell hard.
Still Chelsea couldn't prevent the home side taking the game to us and the equaliser came with 87 minutes on the clock. It was a good move down our right, with the ball played in by Hernandez to substitute striker Shechter who turned to lay it back to Hernandez. From 18 yards out, he drilled the ball low into the bottom corner.
The closing minutes were more about preserving the point than restoring the lead with Cahill intervening to keep the ball out of the net near the end.
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Cech (c); Azpilicueta, Ivanovic, Cahill, Cole; Mikel, Romeu (Ramires h-t); Moses (Sturridge 72), Oscar (Bertrand 79), Hazard; Torres.
Unused subs Turnbull, Ferreira, Marin, Piazon.
Scorer Moses 60.
Booked Azpilicueta 39.
Swansea (4-2-1-3): Tremmel; Rangel, Monk (c), Williams, Davies; Britton (Graham 64), Ki Sung-Yueng; De Guzman; Pablo Hernández, Michu (Shechter 79), Routledge (Dyer 64)
Unused subs Cornell, Tate, Tiendalli, Agustien.
Scorer Hernandez 87.
Booked Britton 37, De Guzman 82, Ki Sung-Yueng 90+1, Shechter 90+4.
Referee Kevin Friend