London: Eden Hazard came to Maurizio Sarri's rescue as the Chelsea star's superb late strike earned a 1-1 draw against Wolves on Sunday.
Earlier, Jurgen Klopp warned title rivals Manchester City that Liverpool will not give up their title bid quietly after a 4-2 victory over Burnley cut Pep Guardiola's lead at the top of the Premier League to a single point.
Sarri's side were seconds away from another damaging defeat after Raul Jimenez put Wolves ahead at Stamford Bridge. Hazard spared the under-fire Sarri's blushes with his thunderous stoppage-time equaliser, but it was still a frustrating day for the Blues boss.
Sarri's side had won three times in 10 days to temporarily silence reports that the Italian was facing the sack. But Chelsea's latest misfiring effort raised the possibility that Sarri is back on borrowed time in west London.
With fourth-placed Manchester United playing fifth-placed Arsenal later on Sunday, Chelsea, languishing in sixth, will be further adrift of the top four after another tense afternoon for Sarri.
It has been a nightmare debut season for former Napoli boss Sarri, who had to endure a League Cup final defeat against Manchester City in which Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga refused to be substituted.
Beating Tottenham and Fulham in the league and then easing past Dynamo Kiev in the Europa League last 16 first leg on Thursday had given Sarri some breathing space.
But Wolves have proved a thorn in his side this season and, after beating the Blues 2-1 at Molineux in December, they left the Italian looking over his shoulder anxiously again.
With Chelsea's legendary striker Didier Drogba watching from the stands, it didn't take long for Gonzalo Higuain — Sarri's handpicked targetman — to demonstrate the flaws in the current crop.
After a rapid exchange of passes with Pedro, Higuain could only muster a shot that was blocked by Romain Saiss.
Despite all their possession, Chelsea lacked a cutting edge in a creatively uninspired display that was a return to the problems they have endured for much of the season.
A monotonous procession of slow, sideways passes brought no reward against Wolves' massed defence, triggering jeers from frustrated Chelsea fans at half-time.
Having soaked up Chelsea's futile attempts to break them down, Wolves sprang out to snatch the lead with a perfectly executed counter in the 56th minute.
Breaking from their own area, Wolves exploited the out of position Chelsea defence as Jimenez flicked a pass to Diogo Jota.
Jota ran wide before guiding the ball back into Jimenez, who prodded home via a deflection off Cesar Azpilicueta for his 14th goal this season.
With just moments left, Hazard at last ended Wolves' stubborn resistance with a fierce long-range drive that flashed past Patricio for his first goal in seven games.
Liverpool responded impressively to City's win against Watford on Saturday, rallying strongly after falling behind to a controversial opening goal from Burnley, with two goals each from Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane.
And the German manager, whose side visit Bayern Munich in their Champions League last-16 second leg tie on Wednesday, insisted that the performance demonstrated his team's ability to handle the pressure.
"The message from today is that nobody gets rid of us. We had the perfect mixture of fighting the opponent and playing football. All we have to do is make sure that we stay in this really interesting competition on top of the table. We have no problem with confidence, we're in a good moment," said Klopp.
The victory was also a triumph for Adam Lallana, the England midfielder whose inclusion in the starting line-up was not universally popular among Liverpool supporters but who turned in a man-of-the-match display.
Lallana changed the momentum of the game just before the half-hour, charging down a poor clearance from Phil Bardsley and seeing Mohamed Salah tackled by Charlie Taylor before the ball broke kindly to Mane, who curled in from 15 yards.
"It is not only Adam but it was clear, if he can play like he trained, then he will help us a lot and that is exactly how it happened," said Klopp.
It was a strong response from Liverpool after they fell behind against Sean Dyche's struggling team in the sixth minute.
Defender Joel Matip needlessly conceded a corner which Ashley Westwood curled directly into the Liverpool goal with keeper Alisson Becker protesting furiously that he had been impeded, earning a booking for sprinting 40 yards to remonstrate with referee Andre Marriner.
This was a real test of Liverpool's mental fortitude after a run that had seen them draw five of their previous seven games in the league and Champions League but a test they passed impressively.
They trailed for just 13 minutes, equalising with a flowing move started when Salah and Georginio Wijnaldum exchanged passes, the former crossed and, after Tom Heaton and James Tarkowski missed the ball, Firmino was able to tap into an open net.
After taking a 2-1 lead into the interval, courtesy of Mane's goal, Liverpool effectively killed off the game midway through the second half.
Salah broke clear and was poised to shoot when Taylor made a superb tackle which, unfortunately for the visitors, left the loose ball sitting up nicely for Firmino to drive it into an open goal.
There was late anxiety after Johann Berg Gudmundsson made it 3-2 with an injury-time consolation after a knock-down in the area from Burnley substitute Peter Crouch.
But with virtually the last kick of the game, in the 93rd minute, Mane chased a long Daniel Sturridge through ball, rounded Heaton and completed the victory, kicking into the open goal.
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Updated Date: Mar 10, 2019 22:50:42 IST