Southampton showed wonderful character to fight their way back from a 2-0 half-time deficit to record a vital point for the Saints, as Chelsea’s misery at home continued.
One win in last seven at home puts an end to the days where Stamford Bridge was a fortress, as even Ba and Hazard’s exquisite goals were not enough to secure all three points. Ricky Lambert and Jason Puncheon made sure the spoils were shared.
Chelsea have won their last five league and cup games against Southampton, scoring a total of 15 goals. The Saints, in actual fact, have not won at Chelsea for over a decade, with the last victory coming in 2002.
But Chelsea have had problems of themselves in front of a home crowd. The Blues have failed to score in four of their last six league and cup games at Stamford Bridge. However, in the two matches in which they did score, they netted a total of 14 goals, which was a source for optimism, especially having thrashed Southampton 5-1 in the FA Cup a couple of weeks back.
It was a cold but comfortable first half for the Blues. Oscar returned to provide Chelsea with the Mazacar trio, split up too frequently under Rafael Benitez. Ivanovic also made way for Cahill, who is now a dad to a baby boy.
Demba Ba led the line with distinction, despite the few chances in a subdued arena. Great football between the Senegalese man, Hazard and Mata is a sure sign of promising times to come, with David Luiz supplying a wide range of accurate passes.
Frank Lampard looked determined to edge ever closer to Bobby Tambling’s goals record, with menacing runs, but there was no end product.
And despite a laboured beginning, a fine Demba Ba volley on the 25th minute at least gave the fans something to cheer about.
Persistence from Frank Lampard saw a cross come into the box, and when Oscar laid it off to Demba Ba, the instinctive striker flung out a right leg, and despite a deflection, the low shot was enough to evade the clutches of Boruc. That’s his third Chelsea goal thus far, with all coming against Southampton.
Southampton did have their chances to get back into the match, but as the half wore on, so did Chelsea’s determination.
And on the stroke of half time, one became two. A long passage of play saw Chelsea have plenty of chances, with Mata’s shot blocked, and then Ramires’ drive cannoning off the crossbar, but the rebound found Eden Hazard, who sidefooted exquisitely home, to record his second in two matches.
Southampton knew that if there were to be any hope in getting back into the match, they needed to score the next goal, and they did exactly that.
Lambert, who many queried as to why he did not start, has netted in four of their previous five away league games, and his record continued just two minutes after his entry.
Clyne’s cross was hung up and Lambert expertly headed home, to restore Saints’ pride.
But Chelsea have not lost a Premier League home match against a newly promoted club since a 1-0 defeat to Charlton in 2001, a run of 34 matches, so it would have required something special to prevail against the European champions.
And something special came. Prodigy Luke Shaw’s surging run down the left ended in a cross to Puncheon, whose first touch set it up for himself to volley home a cracker.
The Chelsea sighs re-emerged. The belief in the visitors restored, for Southampton have only lost two of their last 11 league games. Could they record back-to-back away wins in the Premier League for the first time since September 2001, when they won at Bolton and then Middlesbrough?
Torres was called upon, as Chelsea looked for the third goal. The decision to remove Frank Lampard caused anger, with many believing the midfielder had more chance of scoring than Torres. After all, the veteran has scored seven goals in his last eight Premier League starts. But Southampton clung on for a valuable point.