LONDON (AFP) – Holders Chelsea needed an 83rd-minute equaliser from Fernando Torres to rescue a 2-2 draw at third-tier Brentford on Sunday as they narrowly avoided a humiliating exit in the fourth round of the FA Cup.
A penalty from Brentford starlet Harry Forrester looked destined to send the European champions out of the competition, only for Torres to curl home a fine goal to deny his side’s west London neighbours a memorable upset.
John Terry made his first Chelsea start since November after injury but his first involvement saw Ross Turnbull penalised for picking up his misplaced back-pass, with Forrester shooting over from the ensuing free-kick.
Emboldened, the League One side stepped up their assault on the Chelsea goal and Adam Forshaw flashed a shot a fraction wide before testing Turnbull with a low effort from outside the box.
The underdogs had the wind in their sails and three minutes before half-time they scored, with Marcello Trotta arrowing home after Turnbull parried a 25-yard curler from Forrester.
Chelsea introduced Juan Mata at half-time and within 10 minutes the visitors were level, as Oscar brought down a high ball and skipped past a couple of challenges before arcing a lovely shot into the top-left corner.
Chelsea appeared to have taken control, but in the 72nd minute Turnbull sent Tom Adeyemi sprawling in the visitors’ box and Forrester, 22, swept the spot-kick into the bottom-left corner.
With home fans lighting flares in the Griffin Park stands, an unforgettable victory looked to be on the cards, until Torres swept home his late equaliser from the edge of the box to take the tie to a replay.
Two other Premier League sides face awkward away fixtures later on Sunday, with Tottenham Hotspur travelling to Championship side Leeds United and Liverpool visiting League One Oldham Athletic.
There were two major shocks on Saturday, which followed Aston Villa’s elimination by Millwall on Friday.
Queens Park Rangers were humbled 4-2 by third-tier Milton Keynes Dons, while Luton Town of the Conference National won 1-0 at Norwich City to become the first non-league side to eliminate top-flight opponents since 1989.