Chelsea were forced to settle for a point after drawing 2-2 with Watford in a Boxing Day thriller at Stamford Bridge.
The Blues axed Jose Mourinho on December 17 and began life without the Special One with a home victory against Sunderland under the guidance of caretaker coach Steve Holland.
However, with Guus Hiddink installed in the hotseat, they were much less fluent against high flying Watford, who are themselves enjoying a season to remember upon their return to the Premier League.
Diego Costa, booed by Chelsea fans ahead of the triumph over Sunderland, scored twice, but the Blues were forced to settle for a draw after a late Oscar penalty flew over the bar.
Costa gave the reigning champions the lead in the 32nd minute to receive some begrudging praise from the home supporters.
Chelsea’s defence has been a major concern this season, stretching back to the opening matches of the campaign and the troubled outings of Branislav Ivanovic.
Familiar failings returned just before half time when Troy Deeney, a revelation this season, found the net from the penalty spot after Nemanja Matic handled in the box, before Odion Ighalo continued his magnificent goalscoring run with his 13th of the season, making it 2-1 to the Hornets in 56th minute of the contest.
This match-as has regularly been the case with Chelsea fixtures this season-had one or two more stings in the tail.
First of all, Costa, reinvigorated following Mourinho’s departure and Hiddink’s arrival, made it 2-2 in the 65th minute, with his fifth goal in 15 league games so far this season.
However, Costa, perhaps revitalized following the exit of Mourinho, added his second in the 65th minute.
The Spaniard was shaping up to complete his return to hero status, before a late booking ruled him out of the Blues’ next fixture, against Manchester United.
It was Oscar who had the chance to truly send the Blues fans home replete with festive cheer when he stepped up to the spot when Valon Behrami fouled Eden Hazard, however, the Brazilian, who has been hit and miss throughout the campaign, slipped at the crucial moment and sent the ball flying into the stands, much to the relief of his compatriot Heurelho Gomes.
Despite their late escape, Watford fans may feel disappointed to have only picked up a point from there-for-the-taking Chelsea after once again wowing with their resiliency in midfield and their electric, glittering showing in attack.
The Hornets remain in seventh, and draw level on points with Manchester United following the latter’s capitulation at the hands of Stoke City earlier in the day. Chelsea, meanwhile, remain mired in the bottom half of the table, having amassed only 19 points from their opening 18 matches.
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