Timo Werner gave Chelsea the perfect start but it turned into a long night as they surrendered top spot in their Champions League group.
Recent problems with concentration returned to haunt them as the reigning European champions twice threw away the lead for the second game in a row.
They failed to capitalise on Werner’s opener after one minute and 23 seconds – the fastest goal in Chelsea’s Champions League history.
Zenit then took a surprise lead with two goals in three minutes and then pulled it back themselves four minutes into second-half injury time in a see-saw match that will feel like defeat for boss Thomas Tuchel.
Sloppy marking cost Chelsea dearly in the first half as on-loan midfielder Saul Niguez’s panicked clearance and rookie Malang Sarr’s slipshod marking gifted Zenit an equaliser in the 38th minute.
Three minutes after that Andreas Christensen, nutmegged for a goal at West Ham on Saturday, was caught in two minds which allowed Sardar Asmoun a perfect opportunity to make it 2-1 after rounding stand-in Chelsea keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Romelu Lukaku’s first goal since spending five weeks out with an ankle injury pulled it level once more in the second half and Werner looked to have won it with a classy solo goal five minutes from time.
But yet another lapse in focus saw the Russians snatch a gutsy draw and deny Chelsea the luxury of first place in Group H by blasting home the third equaliser of the game deep into stoppage time.
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