Tue, Dec 30, 2014 - Page 20 News List

Leaders Chelsea held by the Saints

UNHAPPY JOSE:Blues manager Mourinho was incensed when his side had a penalty appeal turned down, while Southampton boss Ronald Koeman praised his players

AP, SOUTHAMPTON, England

Chelsea’s Eden Hazard, second right, shoots against Southampton in their Premier League match at St Mary’s in Southampton, England, on Sunday.

Photo: EPA

Premier League leaders Chelsea were held to a 1-1 draw by Southampton in the Premier League on Sunday after failing to make the most of a one-man advantage in the closing minutes.

Chelsea had to come from behind after Sadio Mane put Southampton ahead in the 17th minute with his second goal in as many games, racing onto a pass from Dusan Tadic and lifting the ball over Thibaut Courtois.

Southampton produced an assured first-half display, but switched off defensively moments before halftime and were punished by Chelsea.

Eden Hazard collected a pass from Cesc Fabregas and shot across goal and into the far corner, beyond outstretched goalkeeper Fraser Forster.

Chelsea took control in the second half, but could not break Southampton down, despite midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin being sent off in the 89th minute for a second booking.

Jose Mourinho was left lamenting a decision by referee Anthony Taylor, who booked Fabregas for diving in the penalty area, despite replays showing he was tripped by Matt Targett.

“The referee made a mistake,” Mourinho said. “He is a very good referee, but it is a big mistake. They defended everything. We dominated, we created a lot in the second half especially, we played well.”

Chelsea still maintained their three-point lead to second-placed Manchester City, who surrendered a 2-0 lead against Burnley to draw 2-2. Third-placed Manchester United also drew 0-0 at Tottenham Hotspur to leave the top of the standings unchanged. Southampton remained fourth, but are now ahead of Arsenal only on goal-difference ahead of their game on Thursday.

Southampton went ahead when Tadic guided the ball beyond John Terry, who had stepped forward attempting to play Mane offside, and the Senegal international sprinted into the space behind and calmly lifted the ball over Courtois.

Southampton started without their two first-choice fullbacks in Nathaniel Clyne, missing with a cut knee, and the ineligible Ryan Bertrand, who is on loan at Ronald Koeman’s team from Chelsea.

Mourinho’s side tried to unlock Southampton’s makeshift defense with a number of neat interchanges throughout the opening half, but failed to dislodge them until stoppage-time.

Hazard neatly controlled a pass from Fabregas, side-stepped past two defenders on his way into the penalty area, and whipped the ball past the outstretched Fraser Forster and into the far corner of the net.

Chelsea seized control of the second half and had their penalty claim denied in the 55th minute.

Fabregas was incensed with the decision, but combined again with Hazard on the hour mark as Chelsea relentlessly pushed for a goal to go ahead.

Hazard controlled a looping flick into the penalty area from the Spain international, before swiveling and shooting across goal, but his effort rolled past the far post.

Mourinho threw on strikers Didier Drogba and Loic Remy in search of a winner that did not come.

“I am proud of the players,” Koeman said. “With 10 players, you have to do everything and the spirit we showed was unbelievable.”

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