Eden Hazard’s late penalty miss meant Chelsea had to settle for a 1-1 draw at Maribor in the UEFA Champions League.
Hazard’s spot-kick was saved by Jasmin Handanovic with five minutes remaining at Ljudski vrt on Wednesday as the Slovenian side – who were hammered 6-0 at Stamford Bridge a fortnight ago – held on for an unlikely point.
The Belgian appeared certain to secure a come-from-behind win after Nemanja Matic had cancelled out Agim Ibraimi’s superb 50th-minute opener.
But Handanovic proved the hero as Maribor secured a share of the spoils.
Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea headed into the encounter knowing victory could secure their place in the last 16 should Sporting fail to beat Schalke.
However, the Portuguese side had few difficulties brushing aside Roberto Di Matteo’s men 4-2 in Lisbon as Chelsea toiled – although the Premier League leaders remain three points clear at the summit of Group G with two games remaining.
Chelsea began strongly and almost took the lead in the eighth minute, Kurt Zouma heading narrowly wide after being picked out by Cesc Fabregas’ clever cross.
Didier Drogba, selected in order to give the injury-plagued Diego Costa a rest, was next to threaten when he saw his deflected effort force a good reaction save from Handanovic.