Louis Saha scored two and missed a penalty as Chelsea, and John Terry in particular, were forced to endure a night to forget as Everton came from behind to win 2-1 at Goodison Park on Wednesday.
For the first time since his off-field troubles became public, Terry looked a man with other things on his mind as Chelsea threw away the lead to lose for only the fourth time this season. The former England captain was at fault for both goals as Saha took centre stage to inspire his side to a victory that cut Chelsea's lead at the top of the Premier League to just a point.
French striker Saha managed to get in front of Terry to head a 33rd minute equaliser which cancelled out Florent Malouda's opener. Saha then recovered from missing a penalty to hit a terrific 75th minute winner after central defender Terry had failed to cut out a long pass by Leighton Baines as Everton marked manager David Moyes's 300th league match in charge in style.
Having swatted Arsenal without complication at the weekend, Chelsea arrived on Merseyside protecting a 10-match unbeaten league run, having picked up 22 points since losing at Manchester City in December. With Steven Pienaar suspended and Marouane Fellaini nursing the ankle injury he sustained during the Merseyside derby at the weekend, Moyes made two changes from the team that lost against Liverpool, with Mikel Arteta making his first start of the season and Diniyar Bilyaletdinov also coming in.
Everton have proved something of a hindrance to Chelsea in recent months. The last three meetings have ended in draws, Moyes's side twice coming from behind to force a 3-3 draw at Stamford Bridge in December. Yet the hosts appeared to be suffering a hangover from their derby disappointment as Malouda took advantage of some dreadful marking to establish a 17th minute lead.
Frank Lampard and Branislav Ivanovic had already gone close when Malouda produced a composed finish from 12-yards after Didier Drogba had flicked a long free-kick by Petr Cech into the French international's path. It was just the start Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti had demanded and Everton were rattled.
Terry forced Tim Howard into a save with a header from Lampard's corner before Baines earned his side some much needed respite, the left-back firing straight at Cech following Bilyaletdinov's cross. Then came the moment Terry's mind might have been elsewhere, Saha getting in front of the defender to connect with Landon Donovan's corner and plant a firm header beyond the reach of Cech.
Yet just as they failed to hurt 10-man Liverpool at Anfield, they again demonstrated an apparent lack of ruthlessness in first half stoppage time when referee Alan Wiley pointed to the spot after Ricardo Carvalho had bundled the impressive Donovan to the floor inside the area. The stage was set for Saha to take the accolades but this time the striker looked as though he wanted the ground to swallow him up as Cech comfortably saved the former Manchester United player's poorly struck penalty.
But Everton were not done. On a poor night for Chelsea, the hosts grew stronger as the game wore on and it was no surprise when Saha struck the winner 15 minutes from the end. Despite Terry's attempts to cut out a searching pass by Baines, the ball found the dangerous Saha and he required a brief glance before directing the ball beyond the diving Cech.
"I think you have got to give Louis Saha a bit of credit because he is a tough opponent to play against," said Chelsea assistant manager Ray Wilkins of Terry's role in the opening goal. "John got caught under the ball for the second one but that was probably thinking Saha might have been going over the top to win it. But John has been absolutely outstanding for us all season, so if it was a mistake from John I am sure it was just the slightest of blips.
"They (Everton) never lay down and they came back at us in a strong fashion. Looking back over the whole piece, they just about deserved to nick it. But full credit to our lads as well, towards the end we came back and had a really good go at them."
Everton manager David Moyes said: "Louis played really against him at Stamford Bridge and tonight I thought he did it again. I think John Terry was worried when the long ball dropped over the top and Louis took it on his chest. But John Terry is a top centre-half and if they don't want him I'll have him!