Chelsea into top four in the Premier League as they were held by Burnley in a thrilling game at Stamford Bridge.
With rivals Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester United all losing over the weekend, Chelsea will be frustrated that they could not take full advantage – a win would have lifted them into third, two points ahead of Spurs.
All the goals were scored in the opening 24 minutes with Jeff Hendrick giving Burnley an eighth-minute lead before N’Golo Kante equalised after wonderful skill by Eden Hazard.
Gonzalo Higuain put Chelsea in front six minutes and 14 seconds after Burnley’s opener.
However, the visitors were level when Ashley Barnes scored from close range, his 11th league goal of the season.
On a frustrating night for Maurizio Sarri’s side, Callum Hudson-Odoi ruptured his Achilles tendon and Kante went off with a rib injury, while the Chelsea boss was sent to the stands towards the end.
Burnley are now almost certainly safe from relegation with three games to go, holding a nine-point advantage over 18th-placed Cardiff and with a goal difference 17 better than the Welsh side.
Chelsea frustrations boil over after missed opportunity
Chelsea started the weekend in fifth place but, despite failing to win for the second successive league game, end it in fourth, with Arsenal dropping out of the Champions League spots.
However, this was a missed opportunity for the Blues, who have played one more game than the teams around them.
Frustrations boiled over towards the end with David Luiz and Barnes involved in an altercation on the pitch, Sarri ordered away from the dugout and a scuffle taking place near the tunnel entrance at the final whistle.
Chelsea were unhappy with what they perceived to be time-wasting tactics by the visitors yet that failed to disguise the hosts’ poor defending, Burnley scoring from their only two shots on target in the first half.
|Race for the Premier League top four|
|24 April Wolves (A)||24 April Man City (H)||23 April Brighton (H)|
|29 April Leicester (A)||28 April Man Utd (A)||28 April Chelsea (H)||27 April West Ham (H)|
|4 May Brighton (H)||4 May Watford (H)||5 May Huddersfield (A)||6 May Bournemouth (A)|
|12 May Burnley (A)||12 May Leicester (A)||12 May Cardiff (H)||12 May Everton (H)|
Midfielder Hendrick was left unmarked when he produced a delightful curling finish to put Burnley ahead with his third league goal of the season.
In a remarkable passage of play, Chelsea quickly levelled when Hazard got the better of Matthew Lowton before pulling it back for Kante to smash home from 12 yards out.
Chelsea were ahead through Higuain’s beautiful first-time finish after Cesar Azpilicueta’s backheel into his path.
Burnley were back level when Chelsea failed to deal with a free-kick, Barnes pouncing inside the six-yard area after a flick by Chris Wood.
Chelsea have now conceded seven times in the past three games, a big concern for Sarri as his side also look to seal a Europa League final spot.
Burnley show spirit to all but secure safety
After losing 5-1 at home to Everton on 26 December, Burnley were third bottom in the table, three points from safety following a sixth defeat in seven games.
Fast forward 16 games and eight wins, the Clarets are as good as safe with three matches to spare after a spirited performance against Chelsea left Cardiff requiring an extraordinary set of results to overhaul Burnley.
Having won 3-2 at Chelsea on the opening day of last season, they swept into the lead through Hendrick’s fine finish before showing their character to respond after falling 2-1 behind.
Tom Heaton’s yellow card in the 32nd minute was the earliest for time-wasting by a goalkeeper in a Premier League match for five years.
Yet this was far from a conservative performance by the visitors, Burnley producing six shots in total – half on target – and Sean Dyche can now start planning for a fourth successive season in the Premier League.
Match stats – Hazard beats three-year assists haul
- Chelsea have only lost one of their 21 Premier League matches played on a Monday at Stamford Bridge (W15 D5) – a 3-2 defeat by Manchester United on Boxing Day in 1994 under Glenn Hoddle.
- Since their 3-2 victory against Chelsea in this fixture last season, Burnley have failed to win any of their past 11 Premier League away games versus ‘big six’ opposition (D5 L6).
- Chelsea conceded two goals from set-pieces (excluding penalties) in a single Premier League game at Stamford Bridge for the first time since May 2011 v Newcastle.
- Jeff Hendrick’s strike for Burnley’s opener was the 1,000th goal Chelsea have conceded in the Premier League – the ninth club to do so.
- Chelsea’s Eden Hazard has provided 13 assists in the Premier League in 2018-19, the most in the competition this season and one more than he registered in his previous three seasons combined (12).
- Chelsea’s N’Golo Kante has scored four goals in 34 Premier League games this season, one more than he netted in his previous three campaigns combined (three goals in 106 appearances).
- Ashley Barnes has scored 11 Premier League goals this season, the joint-most by a Burnley player in a single campaign along with Danny Ings in 2014-15.
- Chelsea’s Gonzalo Higuaín has scored 10 or more league goals in each of his past 11 seasons (four for Chelsea, six for AC Milan in 2018-19).
Chelsea will now start preparing for Sunday’s match at sixth-placed Manchester United (16:30 BST) – a game which will a long way to deciding who finishes in the top four. Burnley also have a big match on the same day – at home to title-chasing Manchester City (14:05).