NK Maribor 1-1 Chelsea FC
Jasmin Handanovič saved Eden Hazard's penalty as Slovenia's champions, who had led through Agim Ibraimi, earned a valuable Group G point.
Article top media content
• Maribor earn third 1-1 draw in Group G against leaders Chelsea
• Agim Ibraimi gives Slovenian champions the lead with superb lob (50)
• Nemanja Matić brings Chelsea level (73)
• Jasmin Handanovič saves Eden Hazard's late penalty to preserve Maribor's point
• Next games: Sporting v Maribor, Schalke v Chelsea (25 November)
NK Maribor survived a late scare to hold Group G leaders Chelsea FC to a draw on a dramatic evening in Slovenia.
The home side, beaten 6-0 at Stamford Bridge last time out, took the lead through Agim Ibraimi five minutes after half-time, although hopes of a famous victory were dashed when Nemanja Matić levelled. It looked as if Maribor would be left with nothing when Eden Hazard won a late penalty, but the Belgian's spot kick was blocked by Jasmin Handanovič to secure Maribor their point.
The goalkeeper had been involved from the start, dealing smartly with Didier Drogba's shot. The hosts were not without an early threat of their own, however, Kurt Zouma blocking both Tavares's attempt and Sintayehu Sallalich's follow-up effort, before Ibraimi fired a free-kick over.
Drogba then menaced from a Chelsea set piece only to find Handanovič well
positioned, the goalkeeper also denying Hazard after André Schürrle had shot past the post.
Chelsea introduced Diego Costa and Oscar at the restart and a breakthrough duly arrived – at the other end. Mitja Viler sent in a cross and Zouma's header reached only Ibraimi, all alone on the edge of the box. He calmly steadied himself and lobbed Petr Čech for a shock lead.
Costa might have equalised after Hazard had found him in the area, yet steered over. Instead it was Maribor who came closest to the next goal, Aleksander Rajčevič missing the target from a corner before Luka Zahovič was left unmarked at the far post to meet another Viler centre, only to blaze into the crowd.
Buoyed by that escape, Chelsea came again. Costa outmuscled Petar Stojanovič but again his aim was wayward, while Drogba and Oscar both failed to find the target. The pressure was mounting, however, and it told with 17 minutes left, Matić touching in at the far post after John Terry had flicked on Cesc Fàbregas's right-wing corner.
Handanovič made superb stops from Hazard and Costa but – after Tavares had spurned a great opportunity for Maribor – it appeared the keeper's heroics would count for nothing when Viler was penalised for a challenge on Hazard in the 85th minute. Instead, he dived to his left to block the same player's penalty and ensure Maribor were not left empty-handed.