Sunderland’s Adam Johnson (left) celebrates after scoring the team’s second goal against Southampton at the Stadium of Light in Sunderland on Saturday.
Relegation-threatened Sunderland salvaged a point from a 2-2 draw with Southampton after trailing 2-0 in the first half at the Stadium of Light on Saturday.
The home side, who stay in the English Premier League drop zone, also had a goal chalked off after a narrow offside call in the second half of the lunchtime kick-off.
Southampton, faced with upheavals off the pitch this week following the resignation of chairman Nicola Cortese and doubts over the future of coach Mauricio Pochettino, were also rocked on it with Gaston Ramirez and Dejan Lovren being carried off on a stretcher after being hurt late in the game.
The Saints dominated the first half-an-hour and deservedly led with goals from Jay Rodriguez, who scored with a shot from just outside the penalty area after four minutes, and Lovren who made it 2-0 with a right-foot shot after 31 minutes.
Sunderland immediately halved the deficit when Fabio Borini netted with a low angled shot a minute later and they pulled level when the in-form Adam Johnson hammered home after 71 minutes.
In between those two strikes Borini also had a goal disallowed when he was ruled narrowly offside after planting home a well-taken strike after 64 minutes.
Riding the wave of a five-match winning streak, Chelsea face Manchester United on Sunday with a chance to reinforce their own title credentials and read the last rites to their opponents’ defence.
Jose Mourinho’s battles with Manchester United in his first stint as manager were frequently billed as decisive skirmishes in the title race, but this encounter will lack that extra edge.
Chelsea are in the slipstream of leaders Arsenal and second-placed Manchester City but United are way off the pace. Eleven points separate David Moyes’ side from the summit and defeat would effectively end any lingering hopes they have that a strong run-in could propel them into contention.
Perhaps more pressing, however, is the fact that a reverse could leave United eight points adrift of fourth place and Champions League qualification if Liverpool beat Aston Villa on Saturday. In the run-up to the weekend’s standout fixture, the difference between the two protagonists has also been felt in the transfer market.
Chelsea flexed their muscles by spending 21 million pounds ($34.34 million) on Benfica midfielder Nemanja Matic while United continue to keep their powder dry with fans crying out for reinforcements, especially in midfield where they have lacked creativity.