AFTER a bruising week when FIFA refused to lift their transfer embargo on Chelsea, the banned played on.
And as Eden Hazard rode to the rescue with a 92nd-minute equaliser, the Blues were given a timely reminder: If nobody is coming to Stamford Bridge in the next two windows, they cannot afford to lose their Belgian sorcerer at any price.
Chelsea missed a yawning opportunity to climb back into the top four here, and it would have been even worse without Hazard’s sweet 16th goal of the season.
But you can’t polish a cowpat, and for too long the Blues were as lively as a herd of grazing cattle.
Hazard admitted: “The players are a bit sad because we probably could do better – we didn’t create a lot of chances and we moved the ball too slowly.
“But the spirit is good, and maybe we would have lost this type of game three months ago.”
Where on earth Chelsea would be this season without their Duke of Hazard doesn’t bear thinking about.
Wolves, on the other hand, we can deal with in shorthand: They were a model of efficiency.
In the class of 2019, these men in old gold are one in a bullion. Willy Boly was immense at the back and if skipper Conor Coady doesn’t get an England call-up this week, the pitchforks will come out to play in the Black Country.
Nuno Espirito Santo’s men came within two minutes of completing a home-and-away double against Chelsea but, my goodness, for 45 minutes this game was buttock-clenching boredom.
To describe it as a monument to tedium would be an insult to monuments.
Chelsea enjoyed 79 per cent possession, but they had only one shot to show for all that territory. Even by their standards of pedestrian dawdling, it was their dullest 45 minutes of the season.
Possession may be nine-tenths of the law, but in football it is pointless unless you actually do something with it.
And until they fell behind, you would have seen more movement among the mannequin dummies in a shop window than Chelsea’s front line.
Jorginho is supposed to call the tune in this team – but on this evidence you wouldn’t ask him to call the tune on the jukebox in your local pub.
Home fans cheered with relief when he was hooked with 18 minutes left and Chelsea managed to sustain some frantic pressure with a revamped 4-2-3-1 formation.
By then, the Blues had fallen behind to Wolves’ only real shot of the game 10 minutes after the break.
Lifting the siege with the urgency of lags busting out of Alcatraz, Raul Jimenez and Diogo Jota exchanged passes before the on-loan Benfica striker clipped his sixth goal in seven league games beyond Kepa Arrizabalaga with the help of a telling deflection off Cesar Azpilicueta.
All of a sudden, Chelsea discovered it helps to run around instead of loitering.
Wolves keeper Rui Patricio was finally extended by Gonzalo Higuain and Willian, but Chelsea were down to the last grains of sand in the hourglass before they were saved by a familiar lifeguard.
For once, the visitors did not clear the box fast enough and Hazard, giving Ruben Neves the slip and shifting the ball on to his right foot 25 yards out, found the bottom corner.
Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo took the last-gasp setback stoically, saying: “I’m very proud of the way we played – our organisation, our shape, the way we threw bodies in front of the ball.
“For the goal, I must look back because at a set piece we always try to be well organised, so something was missing there.”