Blues extend lead despite Saints draw
Chelsea opened up a six-point lead at the top of the Premier League despite being held to a 1-1 draw against top-four hopefuls Southampton in an absorbing game at Stamford Bridge on Sunday. Diego Costa opened the scoring for Chelsea in the 11th minute with a close-range header but Southampton deservedly equalized eight minutes later through Dusan Tadic’s fortuitous penalty.
Southampton dominated for much of the opening period but Chelsea asserted their authority after the break with Costa clipping the post while John Terry was denied in a frantic finish.
Chelsea lead second-placed Manchester City, who were beaten 1-0 by struggling Burnley on Saturday, with a game in hand while Southampton are sixth. Chelsea needed 11 minutes to open the scoring when Costa capitalized on inexplicably static defending from Southampton, who boast the league’s meanest defence, to head home Branislav Ivanovic’s accurate cross. The visitors offered an instant reminder of the threat they pose when Sadio Mane drew a stunning reflex save from Thibaut Courtois before Tadic curled an effort over the bar. Minutes later, however, Mane was felled by Nemanja Matic in the area and Tadic converted from the penalty spot, although his tame effort was fortunate to beat the trailing feet of Courtois.
With parity restored, Southampton’s fluid, pacy attacking trio of Tadic, Mane and Shane Long were able to carve out a host of opportunities against Chelsea’s rattled defence. A marauding Ivanovic burst into the Southampton area in the 29th minute and went to ground after contact from Tadic but referee Mike Dean waved away the appeals despite the Serbian’s dramatic fall.