Florin Gardos (R) of Southampton challenges Didier Drogba of Chelsea during their English Premier League soccer match at St Mary's Stadium in Southampton, southern England, December 28, 2014 (Photo: Reuters)
Chelsea's Premier League title hopes suffered a blow when they were held to a surprise 1-1 draw by a resilient Southampton side at St Mary's on Sunday.
Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper Hugo Lloris inspired his team to a feisty 0-0 draw with Manchester United in the early kickoff and Chelsea started sluggishly at fourth-placed Southampton.
Sadio Mane gave the hosts a deserved 17th-minute lead, running clear of the defence to slot coolly past Thibaut Courtois.
The visitors struggled to produce their usual fluent attacking play but equalised just before halftime when Eden Hazard brilliantly controlled a fine pass from Cesc Fabregas, cut inside and stroked the ball into the net.
Chelsea poured forward in search of a winner but were frustrated by well-organised Southampton who had midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin sent off in the closing stages after receiving a second yellow card.
Jose Mourinho's team remained top of the table but their lead will be cut to one point if Manchester City beat Burnley later on Sunday.
Spurs survived a wave of early United pressure but threatened to end the visitors' eight-match unbeaten run in the closing stages as tempers flared at White Hart Lane.
"They had a great first half but we stayed in the game because we were strong defensively," man-of-the-match Lloris told BT Sport. "The spirit was great."
United, who had won seven of their last eight games, stayed third in the table, 10 points behind Chelsea, and Tottenham remained sixth.
"We lost two points. We had the best performance of the season in the first half and could have scored four or five goals," United manager Louis van Gaal said.
"We were fantastic. But when you don't score goals you cannot win. The second half was a struggle."
The visitors, who named an unchanged starting line-up for the first time in 85 matches, dominated the first half.
Frenchman Lloris made a fine diving save to tip over Ashley Young's fierce curling shot and Phil Jones had a close-range effort correctly ruled out for offside.
The influential Juan Mata's deflected free kick also crashed against the post and Robin van Persie should have scored after running on to a sublime pass from Michael Carrick but Lloris blocked his tame shot.
Referee Jon Moss brandished six yellow cards and Spurs nearly sneaked victory eight minutes from time when midfielder Ryan Mason blazed the ball over after good hold-up play from Harry Kane.
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