Dusan Tadic cancelled out Diego Costa’s opener as Southampton held Chelsea to a 1-1 half-time draw at Stamford Bridge this afternoon.
Costa’s header on the 10-minute mark helped the hosts into a deserved lead, but Tadic fired an 18th-minute penalty to draw level in a half that saw the visitors dominate for the most part.
Having been eliminated from the Champions League by 10-man Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday, the Blues went into this afternoon’s clash with a point to prove following turbulent fallout to that result.
And Jose Mourinho’s side made an ominous start to the clash, and found their reward when Costa rose to head Branislav Ivanovic’s superb cross beyond Fraser Forster to end a seven-game goal drought.
Criticised for their lack of killer instinct after twice throwing away a lead against PSG, questions over the Blues’ ruthlessness are bound to re-surface after Southampton swiftly became the better team.
First, Thibaut Courtois was forced to beat away Sadio Mane’s effort, before Tadic curled narrowly over the bar from outside the box to increase anxiety levels inside Stamford Bridge.
It was a sign of things to come as Tadic bagged a deserved equaliser from the penalty spot – albeit in fortuitous fashion after Courtois got a foot on the spot-kick – when Mane went to ground under a challenge from Nemanja Matic.
Victory over Ronald Koeman’s side would open up an eight-point gap over second-placed Manchester City, but the hosts looked short of incentive as the Saints continued to dominate until the half-time whistle.