Saints battle to Chelsea draw

Chelsea dropped more points in the Premier League title race
after failing to win for a third consecutive game at Stamford
Bridge as they were held to a dramatic 2-2 draw by Southampton.

Demba Ba scored his first Premier League goal for the club on
home soil and his third in 11 days against their opponents before
Eden Hazard put the Blues in a comfortable lead before the break
with his second goal in as many matches.

But Saints fought back in the second half as Rickie Lambert
struck two minutes and 47 seconds after coming on as a substitute
before Jason Puncheon grabbed an unlikely point with a wonderful
equaliser to push Saints three clear of the drop zone.

Chelsea took an early grip on the game but Ashley Cole only
managed a soft header back across goal in the early stages.

They did break the deadlock after 25 minutes though and, almost
inevitably, Frank Lampard played a key role and Ba, who had marked
his Chelsea debut with two goals in the FA Cup tie, finished.

The Chelsea captain beat Luke Shaw as he jinked his way into the
box before laying the ball back for Azpilicueta to curl the cross
in. Oscar and Jos Hooiveld both went for the header and the ball
deflected up for the Senegalese striker, who executed an acrobatic
volley to beat Artur Boruc.

And when Southampton made a hash of clearing their lines,
Chelsea pounced for the second. Ramires rifled a shot off the post
but Eden Hazard followed up to drill a left-footed shot from the
edge of the box past Boruc.

The onus was on the visitors and manager Nigel Adkins threw on
Lambert for Rodriguez after 55 minutes. Three minutes later he had
scored.

Nathaniel Clyne escaped the attentions of Hazard down the right
and swung in a deep cross for Lambert, who found space between
three Chelsea defenders to head past Petr Cech for his 10th league
goal of the season. No Englishman has scored more.

Chelsea suddenly looked a bit nervous at the back. The Blues had
chances to wrap up the game but Ba rifled a spectacular volley over
the top and Lampard curled a free-kick wide.

And then, with 15 minutes remaining, Southampton equalised.
Youngster Luke Shaw charged 50 yards down the left and pulled the
cross back for Puncheon, who teed the ball up with his first touch
and powered a volley past Cech with his second.

Chelsea sent Torres on for Lampard to a chorus of boos. The
Spaniard rifled one good chance wide and then lofted a cross
straight behind for a goal-kick.

Since their 8-0 rout of Aston Villa on December 23rd, Chelsea
have lost at home to QPR and Swansea and now drawn with the
relegation-battling Saints.