Chelsea performed a comeback win during their visit to Southampton in an afternoon kickoff today after they scored 2 goals in the second half to secure the game, initially going down 1-0 right before half-time.
Guus Hiddink’s impressive run of form as Chelsea manager continues as he’s only lost one game so far in the Premier League in both spells in charge. However, this record looked a bit shaky at times in the Saint Mary’s stadium, though what will matter is that they got the three points that they deserved, and dragged themselves up to the top half of the table.
In the beginning stages, Chelsea controlled the tempo of the game with crisp passes, but the final ball was what was lacking from the play. They created a good amount of half chances, but never looked like scoring.
As the game wore on, Southampton got some control in the game as they put some passes together and crossed a ton of balls into the area, and all of them were good ones, too. Cahill and Ivanovic did well to cope with the pressure, often times outmuscling and overpowering the big two up-front for the Saints, Long and Austin.
However, Baba wasn’t on the same page as the rest of the team when he played a soft ball into Ivanovic’s path with Long lurking just behind him. Ivanovic couldn’t recover fast enough to stop the blazing Irish, who chipped the ball delightfully over Courtois and into the bottom left corner of the net.
This happened right before half-time, and from Chelsea’s response after going a goal down, there was reason to believe that the League Champions could get themselves back into the game before the interval, but it turned out otherwise, as all the chances they created lacked the final, decisive touch.
The second half started much like the first, with Chelsea dominating possession and Southampton trying to play breakaway football. This time, though, the Saints were purely trying to play on the defensive to try and get away with a one-goal advantage. This tactic proved to be working for quite some time, as Chelsea were getting frustrated and shooting from outside the box a whole lot more than they would’ve liked.
The equalizer came, however, from a controversial situation, in which the Saints fans thought that Diego Costa had run the ball out of play after receiving it, initially, from Fabregas, but then he passed it to his international teammate, who played a brilliant ball into the area for Hazard. But, the Belgian stopped his run right at the pivotal moment when he was about to head the ball, and this froze Forster into the position that he was in, and the record-breaking Southampton goalie couldn’t react fast enough to stop the ball from gliding into the back of the net.
The go-ahead goal was certainly in Chelsea’s favor at this point, as the Southampton players still tried to take the result as is, instead of shifting their tactics and going for the winner themselves. In the 90th minute, who else but Willian, took the corner and placed it beautifully into an area from which Ivanovic powered it with his header into the back of the net. Forster got a hand on it, but that didn’t stop the ball from going in.
After that, it was just a matter of keep-ball for Chelsea as they coasted for the last few minutes of the game. This comeback win will really give the Chelsea players a much-needed boost as their second leg game against PSG will be played in just about two weeks’ time.