John Terry’s return from a racism ban ended prematurely in pain Sunday as the Chelsea captain was carried off with a serious-looking injury after scoring in a 1-1 draw with Liverpool in the English Premier League on Sunday.
The defender headed in his 50th Chelsea goal from Juan Mata’s corner in the 20th minute after missing the last four domestic matches for racially abusing an opponent.
But 15 minutes later, Terry fell awkwardly after a collision with Liverpool striker Luis Suarez and was carried off looking in discomfort.
Liverpool had barely troubled Chelsea but Suarez was given the space to head in an equaliser in the 73rd minute.
The draw leaves Chelsea in third, three points behind leaders Manchester United, while Liverpool are languishing in 13th place.
Elsewhere Manchester City staged a second-half comeback to beat Tottenham and remain hot on the heels of leaders Manchester United, and West Ham beat Newcastle 1-0.
Both scorers were at the centre of English football’s high-profile struggle with racism following incidents last October.
Suarez served an eight-match ban for racially abusing an opponent, while Terry’s delayed case meant his suspension for hurling an insult at Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand has only just been served.
Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo immediately restored Terry to a league starting line-up, even though he was dropped to the bench in the European Champions League on Wednesday.
With David Luiz out with tonsillitis, Terry partnered Branislav Ivanovic in central defence – but it was Liverpool’s back-four under pressure at the start.
In a sign of Liverpool’s shakiness in defending, Joe Allen gave the ball away too cheaply in the centre to Hazard. Oscar was released by the Belgium winger but wasted the chance by striking over.
The opener, though, came after Juan Mata delivered a corner from the right flank and Terry evaded Daniel Agger to dart toward the far post and direct a powerful header into the roof of the net.
Liverpool goalkeeper Brad Jones, filling in for the injured Pepe Reina, prevented Chelsea from extending their lead by first blocking a shot from former striker Fernando Torres and then Hazard sliced the rebound wide.
As Liverpool searched for the equaliser, Suarez was advancing on the Chelsea goal when he was shoved by Ramires and then fell on top of Terry after they collided.
Terry fell to the turf clutching his right leg while pain was etched across his face.
After almost four minutes of treatment, he left the pitch on a stretcher with his arms folded rounded his head.
In the injury time added at the end of the first half, Mata blasted over after more poor Liverpool defending allowed him to race down the pitch unchallenged.
It was a poor finish that reflected a first half lacking in incidents.
Chelsea looked more dangerous after the break, with Mata shooting wide and then whipping in a free kick that Torres met with a header that was saved by Jones’ knee.
Jones was also alert to push away another free kick from Mata before Chelsea were made to pay for their misses.
With the defence shorn of Terry, Jamie Carragher was able to head Gerrard’s corner onto the far post where the unmarked Suarez nodded the ball into the net.
It could have been even worse for Chelsea had goalkeeper Petr Cech not kept out Jose Enrique’s low shot in the fourth minute of stoppage time.