Chelsea 1 Huddersfield Town 1: Terriers battle for their lives to seal Premier League survival

SO, miracles do happen after all.

Huddersfield Town players lift manager David Wagner in the air as they celebrate. Picture: John Walton/PA
Huddersfield Town players lift manager David Wagner in the air as they celebrate. Picture: John Walton/PA

Huddersfield Town, a club written off almost from the moment promotion had been secured at Wembley last May, have preserved their Premier League status.

On a night that will live long in the memory, Laurent Depoitre’s early second half strike proved enough to earn the point needed to guarantee safety and condemn Carlos Carvalhal’s Swansea City to the drop.

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READ MORE - David Wagner hails ‘unbelieveable’ Terriers after Stamford Bridge heroics

Huddersfield Town's Laurent Depoitre (centre) celebrates scoring his side's goal against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Picture: John Walton/PA

This being Town, they did it the hard way. Not only was there the near farcical nature of Chelsea’s equaliser, as Mathias ‘Zanka’ Jorgensen’s clearance cannoned into the net via the face of the unwitting Alvaro Morata.

But the Terriers then had to withstand a late barrage of Blues attacks that culminated in the mother and father of goalmouth scrambles, which included a quite breath-taking finger-tip save from Jonas Lossl to deny Andreas Christiansen what would surely have been the winner.

Then came six agonising minutes of stoppage time before, eventually, Lee Mason blew the final whistle to signify that Yorkshire would, indeed, have a top flight representative next term.

Huddersfield Town's Laurent Depoitre scores his side's goal against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Picture: John Walton/PA

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Cue scenes of pure, unadulterated joy as Wagner embraced his coaching staff, as his delighted players ran towards the 2,250 fans who had followed their side down the M1.

As the dejected Chelsea players trooped from the field, their Champions League hopes in tatters, an impromptu party broke out that, had the stewards not eventually intervened to usher everyone home, could probably have gone on until this morning.

Such scenes of joy were understandable. Town, once again under Wagner, had defied the odds in a quite remarkable fashion.

With a wage bill dwarfed by all 19 of their top flight peers, Huddersfield had struck a blow for football romantics everywhere.

In doing so, they achieved the “miracle” that Wagner had continually likened to Huddersfield extending their stay in the Premier League beyond this Sunday.

The goal that ultimately kept Town up came five minutes into the second half. Fittingly, Christopher Schindler, as deserving a Player of the Year as a top flight club will surely see, started the move with a reading of the game that has typified his efforts in Terriers colours.

As Willian ran across the pitch midway inside the Town half looking to thread a pass through to a team-mate, Huddersfield’s imperious German simply stepped out of defence and executed an inch-perfect tackle.

The ball broke to Aaron Mooy, who took one look up and lobbed the ball forward. Willy Caballero rashly raced from his area, meaning when Depoitre got to the ball a collision was inevitable.

Depoitre, though, would not be denied as the Belgian quickly reclaimed possession before calmly touching the ball past Antonio Rudiger and into the empty net.

Pandemonium followed among the delirious Town fans housed at that end of an otherwise silent Stamford Bridge. Forty minutes remained but Huddersfield were close. So close.

Then, though, came that bizarre equaliser just after the hour and, suddenly, Chelsea sensed blood.

With Eden Hazard off the bench and linking up with the excellent Willian, the visitors were pinned back deep into their own territory.

Bodies had to be put on the line and they were. Time and time again, as Schindler, Jorgensen, Terence Kongolo almost took it in turns to throw themselves in front of a shot or attempted cross.

Just in front of the defensive trio, Jonathan Hogg and Aaron Mooy continued to patrol the edge of the penalty area with a ‘thou shalt not pass’ attitude.

Even with such sterling efforts from those in red, Chelsea still managed to eke out chances as Cesc Fabregas had a shot deflected wide and then Willian drilled a low cross that was simply begging to be converted.

Then came Lossl’s save to deny Christiansen, moments before Morata saw another effort blocked.

All the while, the noise from the away seats never dipped. It had been the same in a first half that had been dominated, both in terms of possession and territory, by the hosts.

Somehow during that early onslaught, Antonio Rudiger had missed when unmarked from two yards out after Cesar Azpilicueta had flicked Cesc Fabregas’ corner in his direction.

Morata also wasted a gilt-edged opportunity when his touch to take the ball past Lossl took the Blues striker so wide that his shot stood little chance of finding the net.

These two misses, ultimately, proved key. As did Depoitre keeping his cool five minutes after the restart to put Huddersfield ahead.

Morata’s good fortune for the equaliser mean the lead didn’t last. Few, though, cared come the final whistle as the point was secured that meant, for a second year running, that Huddersfield had dashed Carlos’s dream.

Chelsea: Caballero; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Rudiger; Zappacosta (Giroud 53), Fabregas, Kante, Alonso; Willian, Pedro (Hazard 59), Morata. Unused substitutes: Barkley. Bakayoko, Moses, Cahill, Eduardo.

Huddersfield Town: Lossl; Jorgensen, Schindler, Kongolo; Smith (Malone 85), Mooy, Hogg, Billing, Lowe (Hadergjonaj. 62); Van la Parra (Pritchard 52); Depoitre. Unused substitutes: Coleman, Ince, Quaner, Mounie.

Referee: L Mason (Lancashire).