First-half goals from Diego Costa and Dusan Tadic just eight minutes apart set the game up for an exciting final 45 minutes, but the open and explosive game couldn’t provide a winner.
The two best defensive teams in the Premier League started exactly as you would imagine they would, with some positive attacking flow but no true chances in the opening 10 minutes. Then, somehow, Chelsea unlocked the Saints with the simplest of moves.
Eden Hazard worked hard to get the ball to Branislav Ivanovic on the wing. The Serbian full-back delivered a pinpoint cross into the box, and Costa shockingly got a free header and powered it home with ease on 11 minutes. The goal was shockingly simple for Chelsea considering it was just the second time all season Southampton has conceded a headed goal.
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Southampton nearly equalized straight away as Tadic forced a good save from Thibaut Courtois, but it would only delay the inevitable. A fantastic one-two from Saido Mane beat Nemanja Matic, and the Chelsea midfielder scythed his opponent down in the process, forcing referee Mike Dean to award Southampton just their second penalty of the season. Tadic would strike home the spot kick off Courtois’s foot, and level the score.
The goal buoyed Southampton, and they had all the chances for the next 10 minutes as Mane, Tadic, Shane Long, and Ryan Bertrand all looked positive for the visitors. Neither side picked up another breakthrough before halftime, but Southampton proved the better side over the first 45 minutes.
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The second half started much like the first ended, with Southampton owning much of the bright play, but that quickly changed. Jose Mourinho brought off Nemanja Matic on a yellow card and brought on Ramires, and it instantly boosted the Blues. Diego Costa nearly poked home in a goal-mouth scrum but he hit the post in the 56th minute allowing Mane cleared off the line.
As the game exploded open, Southampton wouldn’t go away. Tadic opened things up for Long in the 62nd but it was heroically blocked by Gary Cahill. Chelsea had a chance 10 minutes later but Fraser Forster made an awkward double save on both Oscar and Eden Hazard, with the former doing poorly not to head Chelsea into the lead.
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The home side began to slowly stifle Southampton by keeping more patient possession while still creating chances, and it bolstered them into a commanding position with 10 minutes to go. Cesar Azpilicueta nearly teed up a winner as regulation came to a close but Forster again saved well. The Southampton keeper continued to shine as moments later he kept out Willian as the defender looked to volley home a corner from close range, and John Terry rifled wide on the rebound.
The sides shared the points as time ran out, and each will likely be happy with the result. Chelsea goes six points clear of Manchester City, and while a win would have really closed the door on the title race, the deficit will still make things very hard on those behind the Blues. Southampton will be glad to have something out of a game at Stamford Bridge, and they looked positive throughout, drawing level with Spurs on points and going above into sixth on goal differential.
Chelsea: Courtois; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta; Matic (Ramires 53′), Fabregas; Willian (Cuadrado 83′), Oscar (Remy 82′), Hazard; Diego Costa.
Goals – Costa 11′
Southampton: Forster, Clyne, Fonte, Alderweireld, Bertrand, Wanyama, Schneiderlin, S. Davis (Ward-Prowse 71′), Tadić (Djuricic 71′), Mané, Long (Pelle 83′).
Goals – Tadic 19′ (pen)