Saints turn the tables on Chelsea
Written By: Robert Halter
Southampton last recorded a win at Stamford Bridge on New Year’s Day 2002 and thirteen years later in early October, the Saints looked for a victory after thirteen trips to Chelsea but they had to build from going behind when in the ninth minute, from a foul by Oriol Romeu on Eden Hazard, a bending free kick by Willian crashed against the inside of the right post before the ball rebounded into the net. But on the quarter of the hour mark, Dusan Tadic cleared the way for Steven Davis, who miscued his shot in front of the target, to squander a goal scoring opportunity for the Saints. Midway through the first half from an incisive pass by Cesc Fabregas, a low drive by Hazard was collected by Southampton shot stopper, Maarten Stekelenburg and within a minute Fabregas interlinked with Oscar, before the Brazilian’s lofted effort was clutched from the air by Stekelenburg. On thirty two minutes, the Saints were unlucky not to get a decision as Sadio Mane went over the trailing leg of Ramires and to add insult to injury, Mane then went in the book for diving when challenged by Branislav Ivanovic, when play resumed. In the thirty ninth minute, Asmir Begovic was sharp in dealing with an in swinging cross by Victor Wanyama from the right hand side, as the Blues keeper had to turn behind a swerving ball. Then on forty one minutes, Begovic had to make a point blank stop to fend away Ryan Bertrand’s close range effort, after he had been played through by Mane. Finally the Saints persistence paid off on forty three minutes, when Southampton captain, Jose Fonte delivered a long range floating ball from inside his own half and as the ball was brought down on the chest of Graziano Pelle, the ball was met with a crisp low first time volley by Davis which flew past Begovic from outside the box. Before the re-start, the Saints brought on James Ward-Prowse for Romeu and Chelsea replaced Ramires with Nemanja Matic. In the forty seventh minute, a cross from the left by Tadic created space for Mane and it took an instinctive save by Begovic to keep out the Saints playmaker and then there was more creativity from Tadic to find Mane, whose strike cannoned off Gary Cahill, before the ball was steered wide by Ward-Prowse. On fifty six minutes, Radamel Falcao tumbled over Stekelenburg in the area but was booked for diving, after being set free by Fabregas. In an amazing turn around, a lapse in the Blues defensive duties was exploited by the Saints, as Pelle found a gap past Terry and as Mane charged through his shot got the faintest of touches off Begovic, as the ball was tumbled over the line, with one hour played. Chelsea then changed Willian with Pedro. On sixty six minutes after a rash challenge by Falcao on Mane, from the resulting free kick by Tadic, the ball drifted past the right post. In the seventy first minute, the Blues were left open once again and Mane took the game by the scruff of the neck by running from inside his own half to put the ball across to Pelle on the right, who drilled the ball into the bottom left corned to give an unassailable 3-1 advantage to the Saints. In a final Blues change Loic Remy replaced Matic. With fifteen minutes of normal time, Mane created havoc on the left and it took a strong block by Blues captain, John Terry, to keep out Tadic, who was soon taken off for Jay Rodriguez. The final ten minutes began when Stekelenburg was quick to react as Remy cut the ball back from the left side of the area and the Blues bad luck continued as Falcao’s free kick cannoned off the Southampton wall and over the bar, after Pelle’s foul on Hazard with five minutes remaining plus stoppage time. After Steklenburg was forced to punch clear a Fabregas corner, to shore up the back at the end Mane made way for Maya Yoshida, as the Saints recorded their first away win in the division since February last season beating Chelsea for only the second time in thirteen Premier League attempts.