Chelsea have lost even more ground in the race for the Premier League top four after being held to a 1-1 draw at the City Ground against Nottingham Forest.
Serge Aurier’s deserved equaliser midway through the second half helped the hosts to a well-earned point in a game they could have won.
Raheem Sterling had given Graham Potter’s side the lead in bizarre fashion early in the first half, but Chelsea were below par throughout the game and barely tested Dean Henderson’s goal for most of the evening.
Chelsea are now down in eighth, seven points adrift of Manchester United in the final Champions League position.
It was Forest who had the first of the chances when Brennan Johnson utilised his speed to break through the Chelsea defence but Kepa Arrizabalaga was on-hand to make a double save to deny the Welshman.
Sterling then opened the scoring for the visitors with a quarter of an hour on the clock in strange circumstances as Willy Boly’s attempt of a clearance looped up towards his own goal, hit the crossbar and landed on a plate for the England international to volley home from close range.
That is as threatening as Chelsea looked for the remainder of the match, as they did not register a shot on goal in the second half until the 80th minute.
It was a very feisty first half with few chances, as niggly fouls and arguments between opposing players were a notable factor of how the first half went.
Forest were the side in the ascendancy for the whole second period though, and made a very promising start following the break, with Taiwo Awoniyi and Johnson finding themselves free in the area but were denied by Kepa on both occasions.
That was before Morgan Gibbs-White rattled the crossbar with a superb effort shortly after, but it was clear there were only one side who looked likely to score.
Despite bringing on Mateo Kovacic for his first appearance post-World Cup to try and stem the Forest onslaught, Chelsea remained on the backfoot and the hosts finally levelled from a set-piece with just over an hour played.
A goalmouth scramble from a corner saw Boly’s header land in the path of Aurier and the Ivorian chested and volleyed through the legs of Kepa to level the scoreline.
Chelsea were a non-entity in the second half, and it was substitute Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who registered their only shot of the second half late on, when he was unable to connect properly with Hakim Ziyech’s dangerous cross.
That point was not enough to lift Forest out of the bottom three, but they are now level on points with West Ham United in 17th.
A trip to St. Mary’s to face Southampton is next on the agenda for Steve Cooper’s outfit on Wednesday.
For Chelsea, their attacking woes continue as they are the lowest scorers in the top half by some distance, and they welcome Manchester City to Stamford Bridge later on this week.