John Terry marked his 400th Premier League appearance with a goal as Chelsea came from behind to beat Southampton 3-1 at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea looked to be in danger of slipping to their first home defeat in the top flight under Jose Mourinho when Jay Rodriguez was gifted an opening goal after only 13 seconds following a bad mistake from Michael Essien.
Essien was making his first Premier League start since May 2012 and after he was substituted at half-time, the midfielder's blushes were spared as Chelsea fought back to secure all three points courtesy of Gary Cahill's first league goal of the season, Terry's towering header and Demba Ba's last-minute strike.
Southampton were forced to give goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga his first appearance for a year when Artur Boruc went off with an injury just after Cahill's equaliser and the youngster was beaten by Terry just a few minutes after coming on and then Ba right at the death as Southampton slipped to their second defeat in London in the space of eight days.
Victory for second-placed Chelsea ensured they cut the gap on leaders Arsenal to four points.
Mourinho put Chelsea's poor performance at Basel in midweek down to tiredness and he made four changes to his starting line-up.
Samuel Eto'o was replaced by Fernando Torres up front, while Eden Hazard and Juan Mata joined Essien in the starting line-up as Willian, Frank Lampard and John Obi Mikel dropped to the bench.
Defender Dejan Lovren returned for Southampton at the expense of Jos Hooiveld after missing the defeat at Arsenal last weekend due to illness and striker Pablo Daniel Osvaldo was preferred to Rickie Lambert in attack.
Mourinho would have been eager for Essien to stamp his authority on the game, but the Chelsea boss must have been questioning his team selection once again straight from the kick-off as the midfielder's attempted clearance looped into the air and into the path of Rodriguez, who kept his nerve to beat Petr Cech with a composed right-foot finish after just 13 seconds.
Essien's miserable afternoon continued when he was booked for diving after 32 minutes and Oscar headed straight at Boruc soon after he had picked up an injury that resulted in Lampard replacing him five minutes before half-time.
Boruc made an outstanding reflex save to claw out a Torres header after 43 minutes as Chelsea's frustration mounted.
Mourinho replaced Essien with Ba at the break and Boruc had to be alert once again to tip over Lampard's free-kick, but Chelsea were level after 54 minutes when Ba diverted Branislav Ivanovic's header into the post and Cahill scrambled in the rebound from close range.
That proved to be the end of Boruc's afternoon as he was replaced by Gazzaniga due to injury. And the young Argentinian keeper was picking the ball out of the back of the net just four minutes after coming on, when Terry rose highest to meet Mata's cross and headed into the far corner of the net.
Chelsea stayed on the front foot and Ba flashed a shot wide with his left foot after 71 minutes after shrugging off his marker, but the Senegal striker was not to be denied after 89 minutes when he poked the ball inside the near post with his right foot after great work from Ramires on the left.
|Coach: José Mourinho|
for Oscar 42'
for M. Essien 46'
for Fernando Torres 84'
|Ivory Coast´s tournament starts now - Renard|
|Allegri rejects Juve criticism|
|Atletico´s Arda Turan escapes red card after throwing boot at assistant referee|
|Atletico Madrid 2 Barcelona 3 (agg 2-4): Neymar double secures semi-final spot|
|Parma 0 Juventus 1: Morata late show wins it for visitors|
|Sheffield United 2 Tottenham 2 (agg 2-3): Pochettino books Wembley final|
|Ecuador dismiss Vizuete|
|Championship Preview: Middlesbrough out to continue run, Bournemouth seek response|
|Guinea 1 Mali 1: Lots to decide Group D runners-up|
|Cameroon 0 Ivory Coast 1: Gradel strike sends Renard´s men through|
|Lots to be drawn to decide AFCON qualifiers|
|Eredivisie Preview: De Boer warning for Ajax, leaders PSV host Willem II|
|Bundesliga Preview: Leaders Bayern and Wolfsburg kick off Ruckrunde|
|Howard boost for Everton|
|Ligue 1 Preview: Jardim plays down Monaco title hopes ahead of Lyon showdown|
|Costa charged by FA for alleged Can stamp|
|O´Keefe joins Cardiff|
|Dons teenager Alli in demand|
|Gabriel seals Arsenal switch|
|Wolfsburg v Bayern Munich: Guardiola eyes ´big step´ to Bundesliga title|
|Paris Saint-Germain v Rennes: Montanier seeks another upset in French capital|
|Martinez rules out panic buys|
|Gilardino targets Fiorentina goals|
|Milan agree Bocchetti loan|
|League Two Preview: Cambridge and Luton prepare to renew rivalries|
|Ronaldo hit with two-match ban|
|West Brom complete McManaman deal|
|Sullivan hits back in Sakho row|
|Richards: Cuadrado suited to Premier League|
|Figo to challenge for FIFA presidency|
|Inzaghi out to freshen up struggling Milan|
|Wigan agree a fee for Mckay|
|Carver eyes strong finish|
|Bowen cools talk of Stoke swoop for Sandro and Traore|
|Lazio-bound Morrison lands in Rome|
|Mourinho fined £25k for ´campaign´ claims|
|Mainz bring in Castillo|
|Villa: Lambert will not be sacked|
|Monk hopeful of adding new faces|
|Sainsbury ready to replace Franjic|
|Beckenbauer hopeful of Guardiola stay|
|Mourinho hits back at Costa critics|
|Rodriguez grateful for ´fundamental´ Ronaldo support|
|La Liga Preview: Real want revenge against Socieded|
|No Dallas move for Essien|
|Bale rubbishes United link, Ronaldo rift|
|Sahin in ´good shape´ for Bundesliga resumption|
|Rodgers slams Costa´s stamp collection|
|Under-fire Inzaghi urges patience|
|Rodgers: Courtois saved Chelsea|
|Mashaba wants lessons to be learnt after AFCON exit|
|Mourinho refuses to wade into Costa incidents after Chelsea win|
|Football League Review: Bent double sends Derby second, Rotherham triumph|
|Chelsea 1 Liverpool 0 (aet, agg 2-1): Ivanovic settles action-packed League Cup semi-final|
|Milan 0 Lazio 1: Inzaghi future plunged into further doubt|
|Neymar dreaming of ending Brazil´s home hoodoo|
|South Africa 1 Ghana 2: Late Ayew winner seals qualification|
|Senegal 0 Algeria 2: Mahrez and Bentaleb dump Senegal out|
|Bocchetti poised to join Milan on loan|
|De Rossi suffers calf injury|
|Montano accuses Oldham of double standards after Evans saga|
|Bojan out for the season with ruptured cruciate|
|Cameroon v Ivory Coast: Renard defends Yaya Toure|
|Yanga-Mbiwa makes Roma move permanent|
|Guinea v Mali: Quarter-final berth on offer in Mongomo|
|Thohir: Inter not reliant on European football|
|Bremen land Vestergaard|
|Allegri refuses to rule out Cassano move|
|Mexes handed four-game ban after Lazio dismissal|
|Joyce reveals Valdes´ inspirational team-talk|
|CAF announces AFCON venue switches|
|Alcacer commits future to Valencia|
|Postecoglou calls for Aussie ´energy´|
|Everton confirm Eto´o departure to Sampdoria|
|Pochettino to stick with Vorm despite cup error|
|Barcelona are not favourites against Atletico, says Luis Enrique|
|Allegri wary of Parma backlash in Coppa Italia|
|Zidane urges Real to tie Ancelotti down|
|FIFPro: Transfer system failing football|
|Anderlecht condemn Standard´s Defour banner|
|Australia 2 UAE 0: Socceroos ease into home final|
|Barca overhaul youth system|
|FIFPro demands clubs respect contractual obligations|
|Mahmoud targeting World Cup place with Iraq|
|Fabregas wants Chelsea to show winning mentality|
|Rangers borrow £10m from Ashley´s Sports Direct|
|Lyon face anxious wait over Lacazette|
|Undermanned Lazio recall Perea|
|Ki wants South Korea to prove their superiority|
|Ghana´s Gyan wary of South Africa|
|Mashaba urges South Africa to attack|
|Benitez: Napoli deserved to win|
|Pacos de Ferreira 1 Benfica 0: Leaders fail from the spot|
|Serie A Review: Higuain at the double in controversial Napoli win, Udinese see off Empoli|