Football: A fabulous second-half comeback from Southampton frustrated Chelsea in an unpredictable evening at Stamford Bridge.
Even before a ball was kicked the stadium was reverberating with the news that rumoured managerial target Pep Guardiola had signed a three-year contract at last year’s beaten Champions League finalists Bayern Munich.
What that means for Chelsea interim manager Rafael Benitez only Roman Abramovich knows, but this draw would have done his chances of landing the hotseat on a permanent basis more harm than good. At half-time Chelsea were strolling, two goals in front and seemingly in for an easy night.
Demba Ba was again preferred to Fernando Torres in attack and the signing from Newcastle repaid the manager’s faith with a delightful finish to open the deadlock after 25 tepid minutes. A cross from Cesar Azpilicueta was flicked on and Ba finished acrobatically.
After taking the lead Chelsea began to dominate. The second came just before half-time when Eden Hazard reacted first after Ramires had struck the crossbar with a fierce shot and the Belgium international met the rebound with a controlled left-footed strike from the edge of the area.
The big surprise from Saints manager Nigel Atkins was the decision to leave Rickie Lambert on the bench after his goalscoring exploits at the weekend. The striker was brought on as a second-half substitute and he scored with almost his first touch, a perfect header after great work down the right by Nathaniel Clyne.
The game came alive with an absolutely stunning finish from Jason Puncheon on 75 minutes. After excellent work from Luke Shaw on the left the ball came awkwardly to Puncheon on the edge of the area. He took one touch to set himself before firing in a right-footed volley into the top corner.
It was what Southampton deserved for a magnificent second-half display and moves them three points above the relegation zone.