Mason Mount’s penalty rescued off-colour Chelsea a 1-1 draw at Southampton as the Saints frustrated Thomas Tuchel’s Blues and put a halt to their six-game losing run.
Takumi Minamino’s fine finish put Southampton ahead at the break and Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men held on for a morale-boosting point.
Former RB Leipzig boss Hasenhuttl’s Saints hassled ex-Borussia Dortmund manager Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea off their composed stride at St Mary’s Stadium.
Chelsea headed to the coast with five-straight wins in all competitions, while Saints were smarting from a record six consecutive Premier League defeats.
It finishes all square. 🔲 pic.twitter.com/RR0tfoaLu8— Southampton FC (@SouthamptonFC) February 20, 2021
The draw was the least of pre-match expectations, but in the end two managers cut from the same cloth cancelled each other out.
Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham was withdrawn at half-time with another ankle problem, while N’Golo Kante was perhaps lucky to escape a red card for an apparent stamp on Moussa Djenepo.
Callum Hudson-Odoi replaced Abraham at the interval for Chelsea, but was later hauled off himself, with Jorginho and Hakim Ziyech pitched into action late on.
Unless Hudson-Odoi had picked up an injury issue, this would certainly prove a bold call from Chelsea’s German manager.
Chelsea were left frustrated by the draw, especially with a demanding run of matches ahead starting with Tuesday’s Champions League clash with Atletico Madrid.
Southampton meanwhile were relieved to end that record run of league losses, that had taken in their 9-0 mauling at Manchester United.
Jan Bednarek filled Saints’ problem right-back berth, in the injury absence of regular starter Kyle Walker-Peters. Saints lined up in a back three from kick-off, but this was merely a bluff as the hosts quickly settled into a defensive four.
Chelsea dominated from the get-go, hogging possession and territory – but the visitors were unable to make anything pay.
Saints’ high-octane press put an exacting squeeze on Tuchel’s men and the Blues were unable to offer a considered response.
Too often the Blues wasted a hard-won final ball, letting down minutes of considered build-up play.
Marcos Alonso volleyed wide from Reece James’ teasing cross in the Blues’ best chance of a frustrating opening half-hour.
Just when Chelsea expected to press on to reflect their dominance on the scoreboard however, up popped Saints with a devastating counter-attack.
Redmond’s inch-perfect through-ball almost poured scorn on Chelsea’s profligacy and begged for Minamino to latch on and finish.
The Japan forward did exactly that and then some – cutting inside Cesar Azpilicueta’s despairing lunge before toeing past Edouard Mendy.
Kurt Zouma thundered a header on goal from Alonso’s free-kick as Chelsea chased a response, but Alex McCarthy was equal to the effort with a fine stop.
At the end of the half Kante was hugely fortunate to escape a card after seeming to stamp on Djenepo, with a VAR review coming to nought.
Chelsea had much to lament at the break and returned renewed – but without Abraham.
The England hitman was withdrawn with another apparent ankle issue, with Hudson-Odoi into the mix in an advanced role.
The young winger had an almost immediate impact, his cute ball inside forcing Ings to fell Mount in Saints’ box.
Mount won whatever argument there was on who should take the spot-kick and vindicated that call by stroking home in style.
For Chelsea the equaliser was supposed to spark a rousing comeback.
Instead the next action of note came when Jannik Vestergaard hit the bar with a powerful header.
Saints had responded the stronger to the clash being back on level terms, but then Mount went close with a curling shot that drew a smart McCarthy save.
Hudson-Odoi was replaced by Jorginho late on in a move that would prove difficult to explain unless the young winger had suffered an injury issue.
James skewed a shot high and wide in the six-yard box after Mount’s far-post cross and that effectively was that.