Chelsea loses at Wolves in EPL

Wolverhampton Wanderers shoots as N'Golo Kante (l) and Kurt Zouma (r) of Chelsea look on during the Premier League match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Chelsea at Molineux on December 15, 2020 in Wolverhampton, England.

WOLVERHAMPTON, England — Chelsea lost in the Premier League for the second time in four days as Pedro Neto scored in the fifth minute of stoppage time to earn Wolverhampton a 2-1 win on Tuesday.

Arriving at Molineux on the back of a 1-0 defeat at Everton, Chelsea missed the chance to move into first place in the standings despite taking the lead through Olivier Giroud in the 49th minute.

Daniel Podence equalized off a deflected shot in the 66th and Neto, a fellow Portugal international, completed the turnaround when he was played in down the left on a Wolves counterattack before driving a low finish past goalkeeper Edoaurd Mendy and into the bottom corner.

Chelsea has lost two straight games after going on a 17-match unbeaten run in all competitions and appears to be missing the creativity of playmaker Hakim Ziyech, who didn’t play against either Everton or Wolves because of injury.

Even with the return of U.S. winger Christian Pulisic — back from his latest injury setback and making just his third start in the league this season — Chelsea struggled to create many clear-cut chances and only went ahead in slightly fortunate circumstances.

Giroud’s volley from a left-wing cross from Ben Chilwell went straight at Rui Patricio — only for the Wolves goalkeeper to carry it inadvertently over his own line. The referee only belatedly awarded the goal after being given a signal on his watch that the ball had crossed the line.

It was Giroud’s seventh goal in his past seven games in all competitions.

Wolves is known for being a team which plays better in the second half and so it proved against Chelsea, with Podence equalizing after a fine piece of skill. He produced a couple of feints to leave two Chelsea defenders wrong-footed, before unleashing a shot with little back-lift that took a slight deflection off Reece James and beat Mendy at his near post in the 66th minute.

Chelsea escaped conceding a penalty in the 81st minute after a spot kick was awarded when Neto tumbled under a challenge from James. The decision was overturned after replays showed James didn’t touch Neto.

Neto complained bitterly but had the last laugh with his goal after Chelsea’s players poured forward looking for a winner.

Owen Otasowie, a 19-year-old New York-born midfielder who made his senior debut for the United States last month, came on at halftime for Wolves for his Premier League debut. He has been at Wolves since joining the academy in 2017.

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