Belfast Telegraph

Luiz blasts Burnley after Blues' top-four bid dented

Chelsea 2 Burnley 2

Full power: Gonzalo Higuain fires in Chelsea’s second
Full power: Gonzalo Higuain fires in Chelsea’s second
Jeff Hendrick

By Nick Purewal

Maurizio Sarri was sent to the stands as Chelsea blew a big chance to stake their Champions League claim by slipping to a 2-2 draw with Burnley.

Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger and Burnley goalkeeping coach Billy Mercer had to be separated by the officials at the final whistle, as a gripping encounter ended in ugly touchline scenes at Stamford Bridge.

David Luiz and Ashley Westwood then clashed as the teams attempted to exit via the tunnel.

N'Golo Kante and Gonzalo Higuain blasted two goals in as many minutes for the Blues, but rank set-piece defending let Jeff Hendrick and Ashley Barnes plunder goals for the Clarets.

Luiz slammed Burnley's tactics.

"We tried everything to win the game," he said. "It's difficult when you play against a team who have two chances and score two goals and didn't want to play.

"It's anti-football. Losing time (time wasting) all the time, especially when you have the ball. Their players went to the floor and stopped the game.

"They were playing 11 inside the box. It's difficult to score against a team like that."

Burnley goalkeeper Tom Heaton said: "It was a massive point. We knew it would be a tough game. You could see how much it meant to the lads. We've been very good at offensive and defensive set-plays.

"Gonzalo Higuain's shot was a rocket. I couldn't get my hands onto it. We can soak up pressure and make it awkward for teams."

Sarri's men did move fourth in the table courtesy of their draw, but dropping two points at home could prove costly in the Champions League race - as could worrying injuries to Callum Hudson-Odoi and Kante.

Hudson-Odoi limped out with a leg problem, while Kante picked up a back complaint.

Chelsea must face Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday, with only Watford at home and Leicester away to come after that.

The Blues' only comfort comes in the shape of top-four rivals United's 4-0 loss to Everton and Arsenal's 3-2 home reverse to Crystal Palace.

The Blues threw everything at Burnley in the second half but in vain as the Clarets held on.

Eden Hazard's scooped pass for Higuain in the first half deserved more than Ben Mee's clearance off the line, following the Argentina striker's deft chip.

Hendrick's sweet volley handed Burnley the lead against the run of play, Chelsea failing to clear a corner.

Kante and Higuain struck two goals in as many minutes to turn the tide though.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek outmuscled Ashley Westwood, Hazard bamboozled Matthew Lowton and then Kante drilled home.

Then Higuain spun in the area, exchanged passes with Cesar Azpilicueta and rifled into the roof of the net.

But amid that general dominance the Blues switched off at another set-piece, and were punished again. This time Chris Wood nodded a free-kick across goal and Barnes finished well.

Chelsea turned around frustrated and intent on finally taking control, only for Higuain to undercook an effort.

And when the Blues were reduced to a 25-yard pot-shot from Luiz, Sarri called on Olivier Giroud for the last 15 minutes.

The change left Higuain throwing drinks bottles around the dugout.

Loftus-Cheek directed Mateo Kovacic's ball across goal but Giroud could not reach it.

CHELSEA: Arrizabalaga, Azpilicueta, Christensen, Luiz, Emerson Palmieri, Kante (Kovacic, 46 mins), Jorginho, Loftus-Cheek (Pedro, 41 mins), Hudson-Odoi, Higuain (Giroud, 77 mins), Hazard. Unused subs: Barkley, Caballero, Zappacosta, Cahill.

BURNLEY: Heaton, Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Taylor, Hendrick, Westwood, Cork, McNeil, Barnes, Wood. Unused subs: Gudmundsson, Brady, Gibson, Hart, Ward, Vydra, Long.

Referee: Kevin Friend (Leicestershire)

Man of the match: Hendrick

Match rating: 7/10

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