The visitors made light of their inury problems, and an early Cesc Fàbregas goal, to snatch a point through Klaas-Jan Huntelaar’s second-half strike.
FC Schalke 04 made light of their injury problems by striking back to frustrate Chelsea FC who had been given an early lead through Cesc Fàbregas.
The inclusion of Didier Drogba – described by the pitchside announcer as “Champion of Champions” for his UEFA Champions League winning exploits with the decisive spot kick in the 2012 final – was loudly cheered by the home fans even though it meant their new hero Diego Costa beginning the night on the bench.
Against a Schalke team beaten 3-0 home and away by Chelsea in last season’s group stage and who were forced to leave eight players on the sidelines, the home chances began stacking up early on, Ramires scuffing his shot when granted a good sight of goal.
No matter – by the 11th minute the home team were ahead. First Fàbregas won the ball back with a robust challenge and then made an intelligent move around Eden Hazard before receiving the pass and blasting a shot through Ralf Fährmann’s dive.
Hazard threatened to deliver an immediate second goal and all seemed set fair for Chelsea even though Schalke were not giving up the ghost so early, Gary Cahill well positioned to block Huntelaar’s drive.
Filipe Luís, another Chelsea summer recruit from Club Atlético de Madrid, was also starting for the first time and his quality was underlined with two delicious left-wing deliveries. The first should have seen Drogba crown his return but the header was straight at the goalkeeper. Then Branislav Ivanović was unable to direct another immaculate cross on target before Fàbregas lofted the ball high into the stand when unchallenged near the penalty spot.
So Chelsea went into the break just the one goal to the good and that should have been wiped out when the dancing feet of Julian Draxler took him beyond three defenders, only to poke wide. Drogba came close again at the start of the second half and that proved decisive as Schalke struk back in the 62nd minute with a thrilling breakaway goal.
Fàbregas was robbed deep in the opposition half and away went Draxler at pace. He fed Huntelaar who delivered his shot inside Thibaut Courtois’ right-hand post to earn the visitors a valuable point.