Chelsea 3 (Costa 64, Fabregas 66, Terry 90+8) Everton 3 (Terry og 49, Mirallas 56, Funes Mori 90) Gerry Cox, Stamford Bridge. Few players divide opinion like John Terry.
To Chelsea’s fans he is “Captain, Leader, Legend” as the banner at Stamford Bridge proclaims their unequivocal support.
The rest of the football world see another side of Terry, his faults and all, a player of undoubted talent whose career has been punctuated by controversy on and off the pitch.
The defender who has lifted the Premier League trophy three times and captained England has also stood trial for assault, been found guilty of racial abuse and stripped of the England captaincy.
His slip from the penalty spot in Moscow cost Chelsea the Champions League final against Manchester United in 2008, and he was widely derided for collecting the trophy in full kit four years later when he had been suspended for the final in Munich.
Saturday’s dramatic draw with Everton showed the contrasts in his fortunes once again.
Terry’s own-goal shortly after half-time gave Everton a lead they deserved for their fluent attacking football in the face of Guus Hiddink’s cautious tactics.
And after an action-packed second half in stark contrast to the first, it was Terry who scored a hugely controversial equaliser in the 98th minute.
Afterwards he was able to laugh when asked if it was a quiet game.
“Ha, yes, in the first half, but the second was the complete opposite. To go 2-0 down was really disappointing, but the reaction was unbelievable.”
Kevin Mirallas scored a superb second for Everton before Diego Costa pulled a goal back for Chelsea.
Cesc Farbregas equalised to set up a barnstorming finish, and Ramiro Funes Mori thought he had won it for Everton in the final minute of normal time.
But referee Mike Jones went over the allotted seven minutes of stoppage time, allowing Terry to equalise with a backheeled goal, from an offside position.
Roberto Martinez and his players were livid with the officials, but Terry did not care as he leapt among his adoring followers to celebrate a valuable point in Chelsea’s relegation battle.
“When the fans stood up in the Matthew Harding stand at 2-0 down and started singing, it gave the whole team a massive lift so that’s why I went in there for my celebration. It was worth a booking. It’s a really good point, and feels like three.”
It also felt like two lost for Martinez who risks the wrath of the FA for his criticism of the referee’s decisions as ‘unacceptable’.
“We won the game - it’s as simple as that. Victory was taken away from us. We were 3-2 when the clock showed 97 minutes and 50 seconds. We should have played 97 and then we concede a goal that shouldn’t have been given. It was offside.”
Hiddink and Terry agreed. “I was offside and can’t argue with that.” Terry struggled to get a new one-year contract last season, but at 35 feels he has plenty to give.
“When you get to a certain age, there are a lot of people who think ‘he’s 35, going on 36 and maybe his legs have gone’. But I have never had legs, I have never been quick.
“Physically, I feel as good as I’ve felt in the last two or three years. I’m in the right state of mind. I’m still hungry. I want to finish my career here.”
Terry’s late goal retained Hiddink’s unbeaten record in five league games, but four of them have been draws. The manager said: “Although we are unbeaten. it worries me that we are conceding these goals. We have to see where they come from.”
Chelsea’s board will look at Terry’s situation in the same way, but Hiddink has no doubt he deserves an extension.
“If I am asked, I will give my honest opinion. You can imagine what I think. His commitment is huge for the club.
“For me there’s not much difference between John in 2009 and now. You might say he has lost some speed, but I cannot see that. He’s fit, he trains well, he takes care of himself, takes a good rest, which you have to do at that age. I cannot see that he is slowing down a bit.”
Terry needs six more games to have played 700 for Chelsea. “I think he will make that,” smiled Hiddink, who is awaiting results of a scan on Costa’s injured shin. “He was in pain but we hope it’s not serious.”
Courtois 6; Ivanovic 6, Terry 6, Zouma 6, Azpilicueta 6; Mikel 6, Matic 5; Willian 7, Fabregas 6, Pedro 6; Costa 5 Subs: Oscar for Matic (55), Kenedy for Pedro (66), Remy for Costa (80).
Howard 5; Oviedo 6, Stones 7, Jagielka 7, Baines 7; Besic 6, Barry 7; Lennon 6, Barkley 8, Mirallas 7; Lukaku 5 Subs: Funes-Mori for Oviedo (71), Deulofeu for Lennon (80), Pienaar for Barkley (80)
Mike Jones (Cheshire).
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