Wolves captain Conor Coady headed a dramatic 97th-minute equaliser to deny Chelsea victory on the day the sale of the club was agreed.
With Todd Boehly – the man leading the consortium’s purchase – watching on at Stamford Bridge, Romelu Lukaku looked to have secured victory for the Blues with two goals in three second-half minutes.
But Wolves substitute Francisco Trincao pulled one back with a spectacular effort 11 minutes from time and England defender Coady headed in to level seven minutes into added time.
The Blues’ future is now seemingly resolved and despite their late collapse the point edges them closer to a Champions League spot – they remain third with three games to play, six points clear of fifth-placed Tottenham, who visit Liverpool later.
Wolves’ late comeback ended their run of three successive Premier League defeats and kept them in touch with West Ham a place above them in seventh.
The news of one of the most expensive deals in sports history broke early on Saturday morning in the UK and Chelsea say the sale is expected to be completed in late May, following the sanctions imposed on Roman Abramovich.
Boehly, who also co-owns the LA Dodgers baseball team, was present in west London to witness his first game as the prospective new buyer and stood to applaud when Ruben Loftus-Cheek hooked in from close range after Marcos Alonso’s corner pinballed around the box and found the midfielder via Lukaku’s knee in the first half.
But the American businessman, sunglasses on and coffee in hand, could do nothing more than shrug after VAR took a considerable amount of time to rule the goalscorer offside.
Tuchel said beforehand the Boehly deal was “good news”, but that his side did not need any extra motivation to bounce back from the defeat by Everton last Sunday, and they had already had an attempt from Timo Werner ruled out for a foul on Romain Saiss before Loftus-Cheek’s effort.
Werner began in attack alongside Lukaku, who was handed his second league start since February after Tuchel said the forward was “a very important part of the squad next season”.
All five of Lukaku’s top-flight goals since his £97.5m summer move from Inter Milan had come in 2021 and the striker’s only touch in the opening 15 minutes of this game was a blocked shot inside the Wolves box.
But he became more of a presence as the match unfolded and, after outmuscling Saiss, was then brought down just inside the box by a clumsy challenge from the Wolves defender.
Lukaku converted the penalty himself to put Chelsea in front in the 56th minute for his first league goal of 2022 and soon added his second with a clever first-time right-foot finish from Christian Pulisic’s pass.
“OK, good performance but this is for sure not the moment to talk about individual performances and praise individual players,” said Tuchel when asked about the striker afterwards.
“We do this as a team and we lost points, crucial points. This is not the moment to praise individuals.”
Victory would have virtually guaranteed Chelsea’s presence in next season’s Champions League, but Tuchel’s side showed their vulnerability – 13 of the last 15 league goals they have conceded have come in the second half – and their winless run in the Premier League now stretches to three games.
“At some point we played like we were 2-0 down not 2-0 up,” added the German. “I don’t think we were too deep, I think it was the opposite, and then we tried to respond to it and change the structure.
“So I don’t know if that was the right decision from me, I need to watch it again. But in general it’s a lack of execution, of discipline and execution of the match plan throughout the whole half.”