18th of December 2017

Blues keep on track vs Southampton (1-0)

Marcos Alonso’s strike in first-half injury time ensured Chelsea claimed a deserved three points, by defeating Southampton at Stamford Bridge.

The Spaniard netted a fine free-kick, which he bent around the wall and into the bottom corner, with Fraser Forster well beaten.

Despite creating numerous chances to extend the lead, that proved to be the only goal of the game as we saw off the Saints in a dominant display.

Pedro was on Conte's starting line-up and played a 69' minutes performance before being replaced by sub Fábregas.

Antonio Conte made one change to the side that defeated Huddersfield, with skipper Gary Cahill coming in for Toni Rudiger in defence.

After missing the midweek match, Alvaro Morata made his return as one of the substitutes. In midfield, Victor Moses made his 50th Premier League start in a Chelsea shirt.

In the wake of a heavy home defeat last time out, Southampton made five changes but former Blues Oriol Romeu and Ryan Bertrand both retained their places in the starting line-up.

The Blues made a strong start to the game, with Pedro leading the charge after five minutes. The Spaniard skipped past Stephens and played in N'Golo Kante, who then exchanged passes with Willian, before the French international’s cross was headed away by the Saints.

The visitors responded immediately and it took a scrambled clearance from Cahill to keep the scores level, as he cleared a low Redmond cross with Gabbiadini lurking.

We were controlling proceedings in the first half and a neat interchange from Willian and Alonso brought about a good chance. The former received the ball back from the Spaniard, cut inside his man but fired his low shot just wide of the target.

At the 20 minute mark, Kante teed up his midfield partner, Tiemoue Bakayoko, but his well-struck shot was charged down by a Saints defender.

Forster was certainly the busier of the two keepers and he pushed away an Alonso volley at the back post, before Cahill then forced the Saints stopper into another low save with a shot from distance.

Thibaut Courtois had to be alert though at the other end. He raced off his line to stop from Gabbiadini, after the striker had sprinted past Cahill to latch onto a through ball.

Halfway through the half, Forster was again called into action. This time the England international showed good reflexes to keep out a deflected Kante effort that was destined for the top corner.

On the half-hour mark, we again went close to breaking the deadlock but to no avail as Bertrand got back to make a fine recover tackle to deny Willian, after he was picked out by Eden Hazard’s cross.

The Chelsea pressure was relentless though and moments later Forster pushed Alonso’s shot on the turn behind for a corner.

Just before the interval, Bakayoko saw an effort deflect inches past the post after Willian had picked him out on the edge of the area.

On the stroke of half-time we went so close to breaking the deadlock. Pedro could only watch on agonisingly as his shot deflected past Forster but hit the post and bounced away from danger.

However our dominance was to be rewarded in first-half injury time as Alonso bent home a beautiful free-kick around the wall and into the bottom corner, so we went in a goal up at the break.

We started the second half as we ended the first, applying plenty of pressure in the final third. Willian showed good feet to dart past a couple of defenders but his shot was high and wide of the target.

Cesar Azpilicueta joined the attack after 53 minutes, moving forward into the Saints half and having time and space to hit a shot at goal but his effort was well wide of Forster’s post.

Hazard then saw his effort blocked by Yoshida, after the Belgian had shifted his body to create space for a shot on the edge of the box.

Our number 10 then had the ball in the net moments later when he smashed home following a neat exchange with substitute Cesc Fabregas, but the Spaniard had been flagged for offside and the goal was chalked off.

Alonso was close to a second goal after 70 minutes when he fired in a shot from range which Forster pushed away for a corner.

Alvaro Morata was introduced with around 20 minutes left to play and he was quickly involved, as he twisted past his defender before seeing Forster save his effort at the near-post.

At the other end, Courtois had to be alert to save with his legs from Austin after the striker had gone beyond our last line of defence.

Moments later, Fabregas was left wondering how his shot hadn’t crept in, after the midfielder poked the ball past Forster but watched on as it rolled all the way along the line before settling the other side of the post.

The Saints were pressing for an equaliser, however, and Austin was proving a real danger since emerging from the bench. He fired just wide after meeting a cross from the right at the near post.

At the other end, Alonso was unfortunate to see a shot deflect away from goal after making a good connection, before racing back to make a fine challenge on Redmond as he looked to break for the visitors.

Bakayoko glanced a header straight at Forster in the closing stages, and Fabregas saw a strike palmed away after being teed up by Morata as we looked to finish off the game, but in the end it didn’t matter as Alonso’s goal proved the difference at Stamford Bridge.

 

- Match stats:

Chelsea (3-4-3): Courtois; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Cahill (c); Moses (Zappacosta 82), Kante, Bakayoko, Alonso; Willian, Hazard (Morata 73), Pedro ( Fabregas 68).

Scorer Alonso 45+3
Booked Alonso 90+3

Southampton (3-4-2-1): Forster; Stephens, Yoshida (c), Hoedt; Soares (Lemina 17), Romeu, Hojberg (Boufal 72), Bertrand; Ward-Prowse, Redmond; Gabbiadini (Austin 61).

Booked Yoshida 45+2, Redmond 87, Stephens 87.

Referee Roger East
Crowd 41,562


- Match report by chelseafc.com


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