Chelsea eased to victory against Southampton on Saturday afternoon, claiming a 1-0 Premier League victory over
After dominating the first half, Chelsea were rewarded for their efforts when Marcus Alonso’s long-range free-kick crept inside Fraser Forster’s near-post on the stroke of half-time. The Blues were unable to convert their domination of the match into wider goalscoring margin, but their attacking intent was deserving of the three points.
Chelsea looked to dominate from the first whistle, but Southampton showed no intentions of sitting back to absorb the Blues’ pressure. The visitors who had the first chance in the seventh minute, as N’Golo Kanté gave the ball away, allowing Ryan Bertrand to fire a pass across the Blues’ six-yard box. Gary Cahill made a crucial interception to deny the Saints an early lead.
In the 15th minute, Alonso played a delicious one-two with Willian inside the penalty area, but the tenacious Brazilian miscued his shot from close-range and saw it flash wide of Forster’s far-post. Alonso forced a save from Forster in the 20th minute with a close-range half-volley, before Gary Cahill’s long-range effort was beaten away by the Saints stopper.
Kanté drew an acrobatic save from Forster in the 25th minute, as Eden Hazard’s lay-off at the edge of the area saw the Frenchman blast a deflected shot towards goal. Forster pushed the ball away, and Willian failed to convert the rebound. Chelsea began to come to life, with Pedro, Willian and Hazard tantalising the Blues’ fans with their intricate interplay in the final third.
Antonio Conte’s came close to making the breakthrough in the 30th minute. Pedro picked the ball off Jack Stephens in the centre-circle, before feeding the ball to Hazard. The blistering Belgian burst down the left-wing, and his cross met Willian at the back-post, who was forced off the ball by Bertrand to snuff out the golden goalscoring opportunity.
Chelsea were in again in the 32nd minute, as Willian dribbled his way into the box, before feeding a ball to Alonso who’s surprise shot almost caught Forster out on his near-post. Pedro hit the post in the 42nd minute, bundling his way not the Southampton penalty area before seeing his deflected effort deflect off the upright.
The Blues finally took the lead in the 47th minute on the stroke of half-time, bending a pin-point accurate free-kick around the Saints’ four-man wall and into the bottom corner from 30-yards out. Forster arguably should have saved the shot, but appeared to be caught out by Alonso’s shot that curved inside his near-post when Willian was expected to take the kick.
The hosts came close to doubling their lead in the early stages of the second half. In the 51st minute, Willian weaved through the Saints’ defence before blasting a shot over the crossbar. The visitors had their best chance of the game in the 62nd minute, as substitute Charlie Austin set through on goal by Nathan Redmond, drawing a smart stop from Thibaut Courtois.
Chelsea thought they’d gone two-up in the 69th minute as substitute Cesc Fàbregas played a delightful ball to Hazard. who crashed home a close-range finish. Alonso unleashed a 20-yard strike in the 71st minute, which was parried wide by Forster who made a stunning save to deny the Spaniard his second goal of the afternoon.
Fàbregas began to take the game by the scruff of the neck for the Blues. In the 78th minute, the Southampton defence were caught napping by Willian’s quick free-kick. Fàbregas got to the byline, and saw his carefully placed shot nip through Forster’s leg before teasingly flashing along the Saints’ goal-line – somehow not edging in.
Chelsea rode out the final minutes of the match, with the visitors offering little in the way of attacking threat. While the Blues weren’t at their best, Conte will be pleased with a victory that has seen his side win two games on the bounce. The Saints fans may well feel aggrieved, as their side tested Courtois just twice in the duration of the match.