A second-half penalty from Mason Mount secured a 1-1 draw for Chelsea away to Southampton on Saturday. (More Football News)
Saints took the lead with their first shot of the game at St Mary's Stadium, Takumi Minamino becoming the first opposition player to score against Chelsea under Thomas Tuchel 33 minutes in.
Mount won and converted a spot-kick in the second half to reach four Premier League goals for the season – all of which have come on Chelsea's travels – as the Blues edged into the top four.
Jannik Vestergaard hit the woodwork with a header but Southampton did at least end their six-match losing run, with a healthy gap of 11 points to the bottom three.
Many of Chelsea's early attacks came through Marcos Alonso, who scuffed a volley wide from a good position after being picked out by Reece James.
The visitors enjoyed 73 per cent of the ball in the first half-hour but their only attempt on target was a speculative strike from Antonio Rudiger that was easily saved by Alex McCarthy.
Southampton then snatched the lead with their first chance of the match, Minamino sitting down keeper Edouard Mendy and the covering Cesar Azpilicueta before prodding the ball in after Nathan Redmond's pass split the defence.
3 - Takumi Minamino has scored three goals in his last five Premier League appearances, having scored none in his first 17 in the competition beforehand. He now has more Premier League goals in three games for Southampton (2) than in 19 for Liverpool (1). Opener. pic.twitter.com/1UoyjHvnDQ— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) February 20, 2021
Saints were keeping Chelsea at bay well until 54 minutes in, when Mount converted from the spot after Danny Ings' careless lunge brought him down in the penalty area.
Ralph Hasenhuttl's men reacted well to the goal and nearly went back in front when Vestergaard's stooping header came back off the crossbar, with Mendy beaten.
Mount and Callum Hudson-Odoi threatened late on, but Chelsea ended the half with just one shot on target at the end of a somewhat blunt attacking display.
What does it mean? Blues into top four but winning run ends
Chelsea were on a five-game winning run under Tuchel in all competitions but not all have been plain sailing and they are yet to score more than twice in a game under the German.
They were mostly frustrated by a resolute Southampton here, who brought their six-game losing run in the top flight to an end.
They are 13th, while Chelsea move a point above West Ham and into fourth, having played a game more.
Jannik on his Gaard
Southampton's losing run, and that 9-0 obliteration by Manchester United, had prompted plenty of worry about the state of their defence.
They were far stronger and more organised here, with Vestergaard immaculate, making seven clearances, four interceptions and regaining possession eight times.
Ings can only get better
Ings has the best minutes-per-goal ratio of any Southampton striker with at least 15 goals in the Premier League, averaging one every 161 minutes before this game.
However, with chances scarce, he offered little as an outlet to the Saints defence, touching the ball just 29 times and conceding the penalty with a reckless tackle.
Key Opta Facts:
- Southampton have lost 18 points from leading positions in the Premier League this season, more than any other side.
- Takumi Minamino has scored three goals in his last five Premier League appearances, having scored none in his first 17 in the competition beforehand. He now has more Premier League goals in three games for Southampton (2) than in 19 for Liverpool (1).
- Mason Mount became the 25th different player to score a penalty for Chelsea in the Premier League, with the Blues having more penalty scorers than any other team in the competition's history.
Chelsea's attention now turns to Tuesday's Champions League trip to Atletico Madrid. Saints are in league action the same day at Leeds United.
For in-depth, objective and more importantly balanced journalism, Click here to subscribe to Outlook Magazine