Victor Moses came off the bench to score an incredible last-gasp winner as Chelsea somehow survived a Shakhtar Donetsk onslaught to win 3-2 and keep their Champions League fate in their own hands.
The Blues were in danger of being the first holders to crash out of the competition before Christmas as former target Willian twice cancelled out almighty howlers from goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov which gifted goals to Fernando Torres and Oscar, the latter's fourth in as many Champions League games.
But late substitute Moses nodded home Juan Mata's 94th minute corner to steal a barely-believable victory that put Chelsea level on points with their opponents at the top of Group E with two games remaining.
The Blues were without the injured Ashley Cole and John Terry was on the bench against a team who had not lost for almost 12 months and had won an astonishing 19 of their 20 matches this term. That included the reverse fixture, in which Shakhtar never looked back after racing into an early lead.
But they saw the tables turned tonight thanks to Pyatov, whose attempted clearance from Yaroslav Rakitskiy's backpass was closed down by Torres and careered into the net. The visitors should have equalised when Luiz Adriano produced an airshot but they were level in the ninth minute when Willian fired home Fernandinho's cutback after a slip by Ryan Bertrand.
Chelsea fans began calling for Terry but they were soon celebrating their side going ahead completely against the run of play thanks to the madness of Pyatov and genius of Oscar. Pyatov came charging out to head Mata's harmless 40th-minute cross clear but the ball fell straight to Oscar, who produced a sublime 40-yard half-volley that sailed over the goalkeeper and into the net.
Stung by the injustice of being behind, Shakhtar took less than two minutes to equalise again after the restart with another stunning move, Fernandinho's defence-splitting pass and Darijo Srna's cross allowing Willian to stroke home.
Petr Cech got away with a Pyatov-like clearance and Razvan Rat's first-time half-volley clattered the post from 25 yards out before Torres wasted a great chance to turn in Eden Hazard's free-kick after Santos Teixeira was booked for tripping the Belgian.
Pyatov almost gifted Oscar another clearance and Tomas Hubschman brought down Torres for a free-kick which John Obi Mikel powered home from Mata's cross. But the midfielder was rightly denied his first goal for five years by an offside flag.
Chelsea, who were now on top, had genuine cause for complaint 16 minutes from time when a flying Ramires was convinced he had been bundled over in the box by Srna but referee Carlos Velasco Carballo was unmoved. Moses came on for Oscar and in the 94th minute, he nodded in seconds before the final whistle.