EPL

Chelsea fans turn on Mauricio Pochettino during draw at Brentford

By Sports Desk March 02, 2024

Chelsea fans turned on Mauricio Pochettino as they watched their side labour to a 2-2 draw at west London rivals Brentford.

The Blues were leading through a Nicolas Jackson header but were pegged back by Mads Roerslev’s close-range strike.

And shortly after Yoane Wissa put Brentford ahead with a spectacular overhead kick, the away fans began singing the name of former manager Jose Mourinho as well as calling for Pochettino to go.

But the Blues at least rescued a point on Pochettino’s 52nd birthday after Axel Disasi scored a late equaliser.

Jackson probably summed up his erratic first season leading the Chelsea line in the space of 10 first-half minutes.

First the Senegal forward embarked on a promising run into the Brentford area, only to try one step-over too many and somehow tackle himself.

Then he latched onto Enzo Fernandez’s through-ball, took it round Bees keeper Mark Flekken and rolled it towards an empty net.

However, he undercooked his finish and allowed Mathias Jorgensen to get back and hack the ball clear from underneath the crossbar.

But 10 minutes before half-time Jackson did brilliantly to leap between Bees centre-halves Jorgensen and Kristoffer Ajer and meet Malo Gusto’s cross with a powerful header to open the scoring.

Pochettino had bemoaned his side’s injury problems this season before the match, but Brentford’s have been horrendous.

Ben Mee’s fractured ankle at West Ham on Monday made him the fifth Bees player to suffer a season-ending injury, and with Ethan Pinnock, Rico Henry and Aaron Hickey also sidelined an entire back four has been wiped out.

For a team who were without key striker Ivan Toney for half a season and are still missing fellow frontmen Bryan Mbeumo and Kevin Schade, the fact that they are not even deeper in the relegation scrap seems remarkable in itself.

Yet their resolve could never be questioned and the patched-up Bees duly hauled themselves level five minutes after half-time when Toney launched the ball into the area.

Sergio Reguilon’s shot was blocked but the ball rolled to wing-back Roerslev who lashed it past Djordje Petrovic.

They almost led two minutes later when Vitaly Janelt fired through a sea of Blue bodies and shaved the foot of the post.

But Chelsea blew a golden chance when Gusto led a four-versus-two counter-attack and squared the ball to Cole Palmer, who scuffed wide from 10 yards out.

It looked like a costly miss in the 68th minute when Reguilon crossed from the left, Frank Onyeka kept the loose ball alive and the Wissa acrobatically hooked it into the roof of the net.

But with seven minutes remaining Disasi arrived at the far post to head home a cross from Palmer and snatch a point for Pochettino.

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    The Nigeria international is the sixth player to score a hat-trick in the final of a major UEFA competition, and the first since Jupp Heynckes' for Borussia Monchengladbach in the 1975 UEFA Cup.

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