Chelsea were denied a much-needed boost ahead of their crucial Champions League showdown against Paris Saint Germain as a late Mame Biram Diouf goal gave Stoke a 1-1 draw on Saturday.

Guus Hiddink’s side looked to be easing to their fourth straight Premier League win when emerging 20-year-old Bertrand Traore drove home from outside the area six minutes before the break at Stamford Bridge.

But Diouf struck with five minutes left as Stoke battled to a point which they will feel they deserved on the balance of play.

Chelsea interim manager Hiddink claimed the record for the best unbeaten run at the start of a Premier League reign — taking his unbeaten start in the division to 12 matches — but the Blues will need to improve on this performance to overturn their 2-1 first leg deficit against French champions PSG on Wednesday.

Burkina Faso forward Traore was given the nod as the central striker thanks to the absence of Diego Costa due to a minor tendon problem.

Chelsea had dominated the opening moments as John Obi Mikel shot off target, while an Oscar effort was too close to Stoke keeper Jack Butland.

But the visitors were more than playing their part and should have broken the deadlock when Ibrahim Afellay’s drive from outside the area was kept out by Thibaut Courtois.

Diouf then missed an even better chance from six yards out as he stretched to reach Afellay’s cross, but the ball missed the target.

At the other end, Willian shot just over after Cesar Azpilicueta had won the ball cheaply off Marko Arnautovic, before Diouf’s frustrations continued for Stoke.

Individual skill

Afellay had picked the Senegalese striker out but, unmarked in the area, he shot wide.

The failure of Mark Hughes’ side to take their chances proved costly when Traore scored a goal out of nothing.

He received the ball from Nemanja Matic before beating Butland with a powerful left-footed drive for his second Premier League goal and his fourth in his last five appearances in all competitions.

Courtois had to be in top form early in the second half to deny Stoke an equaliser as he tipped over a long-range drive from Arnautovic.

The Belgian then made an even better stop to deny Xherdan Shaqiri, who had created the chance with an excellent piece of individual skill.

Chelsea broke with the lively Willian firing straight at Butland from 15 yards, while Gary Cahill came close to bundling home from a corner, before the Chelsea centre-back could only shoot tamely at Butland after the ball fell to him kindly in the area.

Hiddink withdrew Eden Hazard early in the second half, no doubt with Wednesday in mind, to bring on youngster Ruben Loftus-Cheek, while Traore went off to a standing ovation as he was replaced by Loic Remy.

It was Remy who should have sealed victory when he weakly headed wide from Willian’s cross, while Willian’s 30-yard free-kick went well wide.

Loftus-Cheek was next to go close when he was denied by Butland’s legs as he attempted to shoot from an acute angle.

But Stoke levelled five minutes from time with Diouf finally getting on the scoresheet.

Willian lost the ball to substitute Bojan in midfield and the Spaniard fed Shaqiri, whose cross was not claimed by Courtois, with Diouf taking full advantage.

The visitors might have even won it in stoppage-time as Giannelli Imbula burst down the left and crossed for Bojan, who saw his shot well saved by Courtois.

By AFP

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