Captain fantastic John Terry spared Jose Mourinho’s blushes after earning Chelsea a 3-2 win – with two goals – against League Two minnows AFC Wimbledon.
The Premier League side was two down with 16 minutes to go – after being roughed up by 16st powerhouse Ade ‘The Beast’ Akinfenwa and outrun by the hungry stars of the 12-year-old football club.
But the half-time introduction of Terry and Branislav Invanovic turned around their fortunes and helped them to triumph.
The Blues were undone by an Alan Bennett header inside 40 seconds before Matt Tubbs crashed a penalty past Mark Schwarzer.
Terry pulled one back for his side and Mohamed Salah levelled things up with seven minutes left on the clock.
Only for Terry to grab the glory – after a summer spent on holiday instead of at the World Cup – and help his side keep face.
The opener stunned the travelling fans at Kingsmeadow. Chelsea conceded a harmless looking early corner but when George Framcomb whipped it in and Bennett out-jumped the Premier League side’s defence Chelsea were stunned.
The visitors had plenty of the ball for the remainder of the first-half but it was largely passed along the back-four and occasionally lent to midfielder anchorman Nemanja Matric who all-too-often played it safe or sidewards.
AFC then produced another shock when they doubled the lead with six minutes of the half left. An ideally lofted pass into Tubbs allowed the tireless forward to control the ball and cut across Kurt Zouma in one movement that left the centre-back perplexed.
Down went Tubbs and Zouma should have got his marching orders as he was clearly the last man but no cards were shown, clearly due to the games ‘friendly’ status.
The only thing Chelsea fans had to smile about, based on Saturday’s performance, was their occasional witty song about Akinfenwa’s hulking figure.
But the man labelled the ‘strongest man in English football’ due to his ability to benchpress 180kg – almost twice his bodyweight – looked like he was well on his way having the last laugh.
Time after time he rolled defenders, shook off challenges and shrugged off the attentions of Chelsea’s million-pound men before he was withdrawn on 66 minutes with his side in charge.
Chelsea’s first good chance of the match didn’t arrived until the 44th minute when Nathan Ake, playing at left-back, surged forward into oodles of space but his effort was poor and gifted Wimbledon another goal-kick.
Chelsea rung the changes at half-time and Ivanovic should have scored when he was found at the back post, with a lofted pass, but he was caught between a header and volley and let the ball drift out.
Substitute Izzy Brown was then left unmarked to take aim at James Shea’s goal with an easy header but it was straight at the grateful keeper.
Wimbledon’s dogged defence could not hold out forever and was finally breached by the Chelsea skipper on 74 minutes when he arrived late at the back-post and poked home.
Mourinho’s men finally found some momentum and were soon level. The Egyptian Salah picked up a pass from deep meandered through the Dons’ defence and rifled home to hurt the depleted Dons.
And, with the home side all out of gas, it was down to Terry to rise to the occasion. With seconds left he jumped above the shattered Dons players to nod home at the front post and crush the Wimbledon dream.