After taking the lead early on, the visitors were continually pegged back, the final time being in the 88th minute when Robbie Keane's spectacular hit rattled the top corner of the net.
We could even have won it when, in injury time, Steed Malbranque found Dimitar Berbatov, he side-stepped Alex but somehow Carlo Cudicini diverted his effort wide with his right hand.
Under three minutes were on the clock when a blocked free-kick found its way to the left hand corner of the penalty area and was slung back in by John Terry in the direction of Didier Drogba, who propelled himself at the far post to head past a stranded Paul Robinson.
Joe Cole thought he had added another when, from a Drogba shot, Robinson made a fine save low to his right, but Cole was on-hand, while also offside, to tap in the loose ball.
The Lane was rocking for the right reason on 11 minutes when a Jermaine Jenas free-kick was flighted into the penalty area with precision and was met by the forehead of Woodgate with considerable force and Cudicini was plucking the ball out of his net, while the scorer wheeled off in celebration.
There was a scare at the other end when Cole dragged a low ball across the face of goal that seemed to deceived everyone - thankfully, including the handily positioned Drogba.
Michael Essien was in the right place for his side on 19 minutes when Cole embarked on a mazy, if unchallenged run, and slipped through to the big striker who dinked past the advanced Robinson to put Chelsea back into the lead.
Our first response from Jenas when he cut in from the left to drill on goal was foiled by Cudicini. Aaron Lennon had a dart forward and was thwarted by the goalkeeper who made a dash outside his area, but despite claims for handball, all that was awarded was a throw-in.
Ashley Cole was yellow carded just before half-time for a high challenge on Alan Hutton that looked worse with every replay - red was widely anticipated but referee Mr Riley took the yellow option.
Six minutes into the second half the punishment was increased in goal terms when Joe Cole jinked into the area down the right side, evaded Pascal Chimbonda, before his shot struck the legs of Robinson, looped up and landed in the net.
The deficit was reduced to make it game-on again on the hour when, from a Tom Huddlestone corner, Berbatov leapt and directed a lofted header over the despairing clutches of Cudicini.
Berbatov then delivered a superb measured ball into the feet of Keane in the area and the leading goalscorer spun, the Lane held its collective breath, but Cudicini saved down to his right. Drogba later could have wrapped it up but flashed across the face of goal.
Darren Bent was introduced in place of Ledley King in the 69th minute of a dramatic night and seven minutes later the Lane erupted when Huddlestone slammed in the leveller. A Keane corner evaded penalty area masses and fell to the cultured feet of the midfielder for him to arrow the ball into the bottom corner.
The dampener came ten minutes from time when Joe Cole again proved the thorn in Chimbonda's side, getting the better of him inside the area before smashing high past Robinson to make it 4-3 to the visitors.
There was a final twist in the tail for the crowd of 36,178 when a move appeared to break down but the ball landed in the path of Keane, who curled the ball beyond Cudicini for a fitting finale to an enthralling encounter that was almost surpassed with seconds remaining when Berbatov was denied a winner by the hand of Cudicini after finding himself presented with a glorious opportunity from about eight yards out. It was that sort of night.
It was a night of gripping drama at the Lane where the points were shared in an eight-goal thriller.