Schalke came to London with just one point in the Bundesliga, and having been tipped out of the domestic cup by a third-division side. Despite very little to commend them, they took a point from their Champions League group stage match at Chelsea.
Chelsea may have had one eye toward the weekend's trip to Manchester City, as José Mourinho elected to rest the high-flying Diego Costa, throwing veteran Didier Drogba into the starting lineup instead. After all, the Blues had beaten Schalke 3-0 in both Champions League meetings last season, and the German side had done nothing to improve their frail defense.
Sure enough, the first half played out as planned. Chelsea were in control, Schalke were picked apart. By the 11th minute, the hosts had their goal. Cesc Fàbregas nicked the ball off Max Meyer, slipping it to Eden Hazard. The Belgian had no trouble slipping around two defenders before sending the ball back to Fàbregas, who put it straight into the back of the net.
Schalke spent much of the first half looking as though they'd barely been introduced, sending crosses into space and misplacing passes. But with five minutes left before the break, they finally started to challenge Chelsea. Kevin-Prince Boateng forced Thibaut Courtois into a fine block, while just before the whistle, Julian Draxler placed his shot just wide after running through various Chelsea defenders.
It should've been a warning to the hosts. Instead, they showed little urgency in finding a second goal. And with Schalke's increased confidence and pressure, their equalizer came as little surprise. Draxler nipped in to take the ball off Fàbregas in midfield, speeding down the pitch before sending off to Klaas-Jan Huntelar. The forward cut inside before placing his shot just inside the near post, evading Courtois.
Mourinho realized it was time to take Schalke seriously, and started shuffling his players. First Oscar came on for Ramires, then Loïc Rémy for Willian and, of course, Diego Costa for Didier Drogba. The double-sub very nearly paid off immediately, with Rémy's effort being cleared off the line.
From that point on, Chelsea kept pouring forward, seeking the winner. Schalke were penned in, doing everything in their power to prevent the hosts from taking the lead -- including clearing another off the line, this one from Nemanja Matic. Somehow, though, the much-maligned Schalke defense held firm, and they'll head home with a valuable draw.
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Thibaut Courtois, Branislav Ivanovic, Gary Cahill, John Terry, Filipe Luis, Nemanja Matic, Cesc Fabregas, Ramires (Oscar 67), Willian (Loic Remy 74), Eden Hazard, Didier Drogba (Diego Costa 74)
Goals: Fabregas 11'
Schalke 04 (4-2-3-1): Fährmann; Marco Höger, Kaan Ayhan, Roman Neustädter, Christian Fuchs; Kevin-Prince Boateng, Dennis Aogo, Sidney Sam (Tranquillo Barnetta 78), Max Meyer (Eric Choupo-Moting 74), Julian Draxler (Chinedu Obasi 86); Klaas-Jan Huntelaar
Goals: Huntelaar 62'