Goals from Olivier Giroud and Eden Hazard helped Chelsea mount a stunning comeback and secure all three points against a resilient Southampton side.
The Blues found themselves two goals behind an hour into the game. Chelsea had a lot of possession, but Southampton were resilient in defence and took advantage of the visitors’ high line and lack of pace well to attack them on the break.
Dusan Tadic opened the scoring in the 21st minute after some fantastic work from Ryan Bertrand on the left flank. Jan Bedranek then got on the end of a free-kick to tap home the second. Antonio Conte then brought on Giroud and Pedro and that proved to be a masterstroke.
The January signing headed in Marcos Alonso’s cross in the 70th minute to give his side some hope and a mere five minutes later, Eden Hazard rifled a left-footed shot into the roof of the net from close range to bring his side level. Giroud then won the game for the Blues three minutes later after capitalising on a loose ball in the box and sending it past a helpless Alex McCarthy. The Hard Tackle now run the rule over Conte’s men.
Thibaut Courtois: 7
Made five saves over the course of the game, two of them extremely crucial to his side’s victory. Could do nothing for either of the goals as he was let down by his defence. Otherwise had some routine saves to make and had a good game overall.
Cesar Azpilicueta: 6
Ran ragged by Ryan Bertrand for the first goal. The Englishman exposed Azpilicueta’s lack of pace with great effect. That seemed to break his confidence and the rest of the first half didn’t go any better for the Spaniard. Looked extremely tired and low on morale for large parts of the game. Worked hard and ensured that the hosts wouldn’t have any luck down his flank in the second half.
Andreas Christensen: 7
Perhaps one of his better games in recent weeks. Reinstated into the squad to give Antonio Rudiger a rest and the big Dane didn’t disappoint. Should have done better to prevent Ryan Bertrand’s cross for the first goal. But, he stood his ground well for the most part while coming up against Shane Long.
Gary Cahill: 7.5
The Chelsea captain had yet another good game at the heart of defence. The Blues’ best centre-back on the afternoon, the Englishman never lost hope and ultimately led his side to a huge morale boosting victory. Won a lot of important challenges, was good in the air and Southampton had no luck from his side.
Davide Zappacosta: 6
Found it extremely difficult to deal with Bertrand and Dusan Tadic. Was ineffective going forward and couldn’t help prevent the two goals scored. Caught out of position a few times and often pegged back on the break. Taken off in the 61st minute. Has had and will have better games in a Blue shirt.
Cesc Fabregas: 7
Fabregas’s passing was a bit off, but he distributed well and intelligently for the most part. Kept things moving in the middle of the park. Picked up the pace in the second half and even more after Giroud came on. Never seemed to give up and did his fair share defensively.
N’Golo Kante: 8
Top class once again. Ended the game with the same high tempo that he started it with. Had most of his teammates been the same way, Chelsea would’ve won this game comfortably. Was almost everywhere and was instrumental in helping Chelsea retain possession and keep the pressure on the Saints in the last half hour of the game.
Marcos Alonso: 7
Was at fault for the second goal. Alonso was caught ball watching and left Bednarek free to score in his first game of the season. Made amends for it after he sent in a wonderful cross for Giroud to bring his side back to life. Got better with his defensive duties as the second half progressed, but looked really fatigued overall.
For the first hour or so, the Brazilian was having a frustrating game. Later, he began finding his stride as a sense of urgency kicked in. Willian’s biggest contribution of the game was setting up Hazard’s goal, which he did very well from the left flank.
Alvaro Morata: 5.5
Not a good game from the Spaniard at all. Southampton’s players got under his skin far too early and easily. Had an extremely frustrating hour on the pitch. Morata was isolated by the Southampton defence and saw little of the ball. Lacked composure and was hauled off the pitch in the 61st minute.
Eden Hazard: 8
Like most of his Chelsea teammates, it was a game of two halves for the Belgian. Hazard saw a lot of the ball in the first half and got into some good positions, but could make nothing of it. As the game went on, his influence faded and he seemed tired, frustrated and isolated.
It was only after around the 65th minute that the 25-year-old seemed to spring back to life. He began taking on players and the swagger slowly seemed to return. For his goal, he took a superb first touch to control Willian’s cross and smash it into the roof of the net to bring his side back on level terms in the 75th minute.
Victor Moses: N/A
Olivier Giroud: 10
Could ask nothing more of the Frenchman on the afternoon. It was as perfect as substitutions go and his introduction proved to be an inspired decision by Conte. The first goal, a diving header into the bottom left and the second, a slick finish into the opposite corner of McCarthy’s goal.
Looked a lot more lively and threatening than Morata ever did in his 61 minutes on the pitch. Used his physicality well to win the ball in the air and retain possession. Linked well with his teammates and proved too much for the Southampton defence to handle.
Came on in the 61st minute for Davide Zappacosta to add more pace and bite to Chelsea’s attack. His introduction essentially made the formation into a 4-2-3-1. The fresh legs helped bring Chelsea’s attack back to life and he did well by running into space, drawing players away and giving Hazard and Willian another skilled speedster to combine with.