Cole The Star On Crespo's Blues Bow (Sky Sports)
Chelsea 2 Blackburn Rovers 2
Adrian Mutu 45
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink 63(pen)
|Andy Cole 1
Andy Cole 58
Richard Jolly reports
It may take time for Chelsea's 100 million arrivals to gel, but Claudio Ranieri's old guard took the smile off Roman Abramovich's face as Blackburn held the Premiership big-spenders.
First Marcel Desailly's casual backheel only found Matt Jansen and his cross was volleyed in by Andy Cole for the Premiership's quickest goal of the season.
And then the normally reliable Carlo Cudicini merely marred his own fine work in brilliantly tipping a David Thompson free kick over by flapping at the midfielder's corner. The grateful Cole duly tapped in his second.
The quicksilver Adrian Mutu and the rejuvenated Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink brought Chelsea level either side of half time against their bogey team, Blackburn boasting an unbeaten record at Stamford Bridge which spans 20 years.
One of Europe's most feared strikers then made his bow but Hernan Crespo was overshadowed by two-goal Cole, once in that elite group himself and, almost, 19-year-old Paul Gallagher, who nearly turned in a Cole cross for the winner.
That impact may have been anticipated from a former Blackburn player, but, like 16.8 million striker Crespo, 17 million winger Duff was one of the more peripheral figures.
Indeed, his meeting with his former club lasted just 45 minutes before he was sacrificed for the extra steel of Emmanuel Petit. A volley just over Friedel's bar was the highlight of his afternoon but the Irishman was little more significant than the watching Barry Ferguson, bought with the ample proceeds of Duff's departure.
And David Thompson, a bargain at 1.5 million, was the dominant force in midfield, hassling his expensive counterparts and forever a threat with his ferocious long-range shooting.
For all Frank Lampard's industry and Juan Sebastian Veron's silky touches, the need for the combative qualities of Claude Makelele to match Thompson was very evident.
Thompson almost got on the scoresheet himself with a dipping 25-yard shot just a minute after Mutu had a strike dubiously disallowed for offside. It was the second time Chelsea nearly found themselves two goals behind, Cudicini denying Jansen in the first three minutes as well.
And with Markus Babbel making just his third Premiership start in two years and performing with understated excellence on his debut , Blackburn had shed the shakiness which cost them dearly at Manchester City.
So Chelsea were restricted to long-range efforts, with Friedel denying Geremi, Veron and Wayne Bridge and only Mutu finding space in the Blackburn box.
After his first effort was chalked off, the Romanian scored his second goal in as many games, rounding Friedel to level following a rather Veronesque pass from the ever-improving Lampard.
The Argentinian himself almost opened his account for Chelsea with a long-range special before Cole's second goal and Hasselbaink's quick response. For the second successive Saturday, Lucas Neill seemed unfortunate to be penalised, referee Mike Dean ruling Geremi's cross hit his hand. Hasselbaink, unconcerned at the validity of the spot kick, calmly sent Friedel the wrong way.
Hasselbaink himself threatened a winner but Blackburn, positive even when playing five at the back, were closer, first through Gallagher and then with captain Garry Flitcroft's nicely-timed volley.
Chelsea had felt Flitcroft had elbowed Petit earlier, while Steven Reid had flown into a tackle on the Frenchman but as the skipper's late shot showed, Rovers have quality as well as an abrasive edge. Blackburn may have been gifted their goals, but they earned their point.
MAN OF THE MATCH: David Thompson (Blackburn) - Could he be the answer to Sven Goran Eriksson's problem on the left of midfield?
Chelsea: Cudicini, Johnson, Terry,
Desailly, Bridge (Cole 84), Veron, Lampard, Geremi, Duff (Petit 45), Mutu (Crespo
Subs Not Used: Ambrosio, Gallas.
Goals: Mutu 45, Hasselbaink 63 pen.
Blackburn: Friedel, Neill, Amoruso,
Babbel, Gresko, Flitcroft, Tugay (Martin Taylor 84), Reid (Johansson 72),
Thompson, Cole, Jansen (Gallagher 73).
Subs Not Used: Kelly, Grabbi.
Booked: Reid, Amoruso, Thompson, Flitcroft.
Goals: Cole 1, 58.
Referee: M Dean (Wirral).