Scroll to Photostream above left for the best match photos. Managers’ reaction below.
Southampton hit Chelsea’s hopes of catching up with the top two in the Barclays Premier League when they came from two goals down to draw 2-2 at Stamford Bridge. Goals in the second half from substitute Rickie Lambert and Jason Puncheon stunned a Chelsea side who appeared to be cruising through first-half strikes from Demba Ba and Eden Hazard.
After a cagey opening a cross in the 10th minute from Ba almost resulted in a Chelsea goal but Southampton scrambled to clear. Puncheon had a chance to head Southampton into the lead after 16 minutes but could not direct his effort on to the target.
Just as Southampton started to look comfortable Chelsea took the lead. A cross from the right by Cesar Azpilicueta in the 25th minute was not cleared and Ba acrobatically converted the loose ball for his first home goal for his new club since joining from Newcastle United and his 14th for the season.
Despite manager Nigel Adkins not fielding leading scorer Rickie Lambert and record-signing Gaston Ramirez, Southampton probed at Chelsea with Puncheon their main threat down their right. Chelsea survived a scare when Jay Rodriguez pulled a long-ball out of the air with a delightful first touch and teed up Davies, who side-footed his shot wide from the edge of the box.
That scare jolted Chelsea into action. Some intricate one-touch football released Hazard down the left but Lampard saw his shot blocked before he fired wide after being teed up by Mata. Ba then headed back to Lampard, who lifted the ball into the box towards Hazard and Oscar, who got in a muddle but still forced Boruc to tip it round the post for a corner. When Southampton made a hash of clearing their lines, Chelsea pounced for the second. Ramires rifled a shot off a post but Hazard followed up to drill a left-footed shot past Boruc.
After the break Chelsea continued to dominate but in the 58th minute, less than three minutes after coming on for Rodriguez, Rickie Lambert halved the deficit for Southampton with a stooping header from Nathaniel Clyne’s cross for his 10th league goal of the campaign.
Ba had an opportunity to restore Chelsea’s two-goal lead on 68 minutes but he could not keep down when volleying Mata’s chip over the top while Lampard sent a free-kick just wide of a post.
Puncheon silenced Stamford Bridge with the equaliser in the 75th minute. Luke Shaw marauded down the Chelsea left and his cross found its way to the former Blackpool wide man, who teed up the ball and lashed it into the far corner.
With five minutes remaining Fernando Torres, on as a substitute for Lampard, worked his way into a shooting opportunity but screwed his effort wide and with that went Chelsea's last hope of three points.
Their failure to win a home league match for the sixth time in the past seven fixtures means that Chelsea have 42 points, six behind Manchester City and 13 adrift of Manchester United, while Southampton moved to 22 points, three off the relegation zone in 15th place.
Chelsea interim manager Rafael Benitez: “We started the second half and didn't manage the game or have the control we were expecting. We didn't take our chances when we had them, which gave them hope they could score, and they did.
“At half-time I said we needed a third goal. I spoke about us needing to be more clinical and tonight it was the same. We should have won, but credit to Southampton, they played a good game.'
“We can't be happy drawing at home, the next game [against Arsenal] has to be totally different, it's another challenge and we have to try to win the game. We have to defend as a unit better, especially when you are winning, that's something we have to improve.”
Southampton manager Nigel Adkins: “We had several opportunities to clear the ball and we didn't and we got punished. Chelsea 10 days ago [in the FA Cup] also scored just before half-time to go 2-1 up and went on to dominate the second half and we lost five goals.
“Today we came with a game plan to get something from the game, to be compact, to intercept and counter attack, and frustrate Chelsea. They scored at a bad time for us and we could have said, ‘Let's go and chase it and play two up front’, and there is every chance we could have ended up with a scoreline like Aston Villa did when they got beaten by eight here. Today we struck to the game plan.
"We stuck at it. Rickie came on and scored the goal and what a fantastic goal it was for the second one. Not many teams will come back from two goals down against Chelsea."
|17 Mar 2013||v West Ham (H)|
|20 Jan 2013||v Arsenal (H)|
|30 Mar 2013||v Southampton (A)|
|17 Apr 2013||v Fulham (A)|
|21 Apr 2013||v Liverpool (A)|
|19 May 2013||v Everton (H)|