APOEL Nicosia scores late to draw 2-2 at Chelsea
APOEL Nicosia scored with three minutes left Tuesday to draw 2-2 at Chelsea in the teams' final Champions League group match.
Chelsea had already qualified for the next round as Group D winner but missed out on a morale-boosting win when a misunderstanding between John Terry and John Obi Mikel allowed Nenad Mirosavljevic to steal possession and equalize.
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Michael Essien and Didier Drogba had put Chelsea in front after an opening goal by Marcin Zewlakow.
Chelsea was unbeaten in the group with 14 points from six matches.
Essien and Drogba were among just four Chelsea players to stay in the side after the Blues' Premier League lead was trimmed to two points by a 2-1 loss at Manchester City on Saturday.
Chelsea still fielded a strong side packed with internationals but APOEL took the lead in the sixth minute. An exchange of passes down the left was followed by a pass infield to Zewlakow, who collected the ball on the edge of the six-yard box and poked it past stand-in goalkeeper Ross Turnbull.
Stung into action, Chelsea had a goal by Joe Cole ruled out because of offside before Essien leveled the scores 13 minutes later.
The Ghana midfielder hit a swerving shot from 25 meters (yards) past the APOEL goalkeeper and into the net.
But Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti's decision to play Essien may be questioned after the player limped out of the match with a hamstring injury shortly after scoring. The Ghana midfielder may not recover in time to play again for Chelsea before he leaves to play for Ghana at the Jan. 10-31 African Cup of Nations.
Drogba, who will also be at the tournament with Ivory Coast, put Chelsea ahead in the 26th - before Ancelotti had even replaced Essien. The striker scored from about 10 meters (yards) from a cross by Yuri Zhirkov.
Chelsea could have scored more but APOEL clinched a draw when Mirosavljevic intercepted a return pass from Mikel to Terry, advanced on goal and scored with a low shot.