Premier League
ChelseaChelsea4SouthamptonSouthampton2

Chelsea 4-2 Southampton

By Phil McNultyChief football writer at Stamford Bridge
Eden Hazard
Eden Hazard opened the scoring for Chelsea with a low strike

Chelsea restored their lead at the top of the Premier League to seven points with a convincing win over Southampton at Stamford Bridge.

Antonio Conte's side had seen their advantage cut by Tottenham after the Blues' loss at Manchester United - but this was an emphatic response to follow on from Saturday's FA Cup semi-final win against their London rivals.

Eden Hazard and Diego Costa were both back in the starting line-up after Wembley and were key figures, the Belgian putting Chelsea ahead with a low shot after five minutes.

Former Chelsea midfielder Oriol Romeu bundled in an equaliser for Saints before Gary Cahill headed the title pace-setters back in front right on half-time, a moment that effectively decided the destination of the points.

Costa confirmed Chelsea's supremacy with a header early in the second half before scoring his second with a low shot late on.

Ryan Bertrand, another former Chelsea man, was on target in the dying seconds - but the victory was secured for Conte's men and now Spurs must respond at in-form Crystal Palace on Wednesday (20:00 BST kick-off).

Conte gets Hazard and Costa calls spot on

Antonio Conte hailed Chelsea's desire following their 4-2 victory over Southampton

Conte manoeuvred his resources to perfection in the victory against Spurs at Wembley - and did it again here as Hazard and Costa made decisive contributions to a vital Chelsea win.

Conte raised eyebrows when he left his two most dangerous attackers out of his starting line-up on Saturday but used them as game-changers to great effect, deploying them as substitutes after an hour and Hazard then scoring the goal that swung the match in favour of his side.

Hazard and Costa were back from the start against Southampton and illustrated why they have been such integral components of Chelsea's rise to the top of the table this season.

The pair combined in the fifth minute for Hazard to score and Spain striker Costa was simply too strong for Bertrand when he arrived on the end of Cesc Fabregas' cross to score the third goal early in the second half.

And they were at it again soon afterwards - a neat exchange with Pedro leading to Costa getting his second and Chelsea's fourth with a powerful low drive in the closing moments.

Conte has put the Blues right back on track after their loss at Manchester United with wins in the FA Cup semi-final and here at Stamford Bridge - and his shrewd use of two of his most vital assets has helped him achieve it with a superb piece of management.

Chelsea survive test of nerve

Gary Cahill
Defender Gary Cahill scored his seventh goal of the season for Chelsea

Southampton - and of course Tottenham - would have been hoping anxiety and pressure might just have played a part in a shock result at Stamford Bridge.

And for a spell those factors came into play as the Saints recovered from Chelsea's perfect start to equalise through Romeu and then exert a measure of control.

However, the hosts kept their nerve to run out comfortable winners and avoid the sort of slip-up that would have played into the hands of Spurs.

Stamford Bridge ended the game in celebratory mood and the feeling that Chelsea's equilibrium had been restored after those recent slips at home to Crystal Palace and away to Manchester United.

Puel 'satisfied' with Saints 'quality'

Can Tottenham respond?

"We've put pressure on Spurs," said goalscorer Hazard.

Mauricio Pochettino's side will have felt the door had opened when Chelsea lost at Old Trafford and the gap at the top of the table was reduced to only four points. Suddenly the pressure was on Conte and his players.

The tables have now been turned and it will be Spurs and their manager who will be feeling the heat and the need to win when they travel to in-form Crystal Palace on Wednesday.

Spurs have reeled off seven straight league wins - their best sequence since 1967 - but all the self-belief built up during that run will be required to face Sam Allardyce's rejuvenated side, who have beaten Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool in recent weeks.

They will not only have to respond to the Blues' win that restored their seven-point lead, but also to the disappointment of losing the FA Cup semi-final to their London rivals at Wembley on Saturday.

These are defining moments in the Premier League season - with a huge weekend ahead as Chelsea travel to Everton and Spurs face Arsenal in the north London derby on Sunday.

Man of the match - Diego Costa (Chelsea)

Diego Costa
Diego Costa (centre) was quiet in the first half but then exploded in the second - scoring his 50th and 51st league goal for the Blues

Hazard's best return - the match stats

  • Costa's first strike was his 50th in the Premier League in his 85th game - only seven strikers have reached the milestone faster.
  • Hazard has scored 15 league goals this season - his best return in a single campaign in the competition.
  • Since their return to the top-flight in 2012-13, Southampton have scored more away Premier League goals at Stamford Bridge than any other side (nine).
  • Fabregas' assist for Costa's goal was his 103rd in the Premier League - second only to Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs (162).
  • Cahill has scored 26 Premier League goals - excluding penalties - the second most of any defender in the competition (after team-mate John Terry with 40).
  • Saints conceded four goals in a Premier League away game for the first time since 5 April 2014, when they lost 4-1 at eventual champions Manchester City.
  • The Blues have now failed to keep a clean sheet in their past 11 Premier League games.

What's next?

The Blues are at Goodison Park to face Everton on Sunday (14:05 BST) and the Saints will be at home to struggling Hull on Saturday (15:00 BST).

Line-ups

Chelsea

Formation 3-4-2-1

  • 13Courtois
  • 28Azpilicueta
  • 30David Luiz
  • 24Cahill
  • 15MosesSubstituted forTerryat 86'minutes
  • 7KantéBooked at 40mins
  • 21Matic
  • 3Alonso
  • 4FàbregasBooked at 49minsSubstituted forPedroat 77'minutes
  • 10E HazardSubstituted forWillianat 90'minutes
  • 19Diego Costa

Substitutes

  • 1Begovic
  • 6Aké
  • 11Pedro
  • 22Willian
  • 23Batshuayi
  • 26Terry
  • 29Chalobah

Southampton

Formation 4-1-4-1

  • 1Forster
  • 2Cédric Soares
  • 24Stephens
  • 3Yoshida
  • 21Bertrand
  • 14RomeuBooked at 60mins
  • 11TadicBooked at 73mins
  • 8Davis
  • 16Ward-ProwseSubstituted forLongat 82'minutes
  • 19BoufalSubstituted forRedmondat 68'minutes
  • 20GabbiadiniSubstituted forRodriguezat 86'minutes

Substitutes

  • 4Clasie
  • 7Long
  • 9Rodriguez
  • 12Cáceres
  • 22Redmond
  • 23Højbjerg
  • 40Hassen
Referee:
Lee Mason
Attendance:
41,168

Match Stats

Home TeamChelseaAway TeamSouthampton
Possession
Home48%
Away52%
Shots
Home17
Away12
Shots on Target
Home7
Away4
Corners
Home6
Away7
Fouls
Home13
Away9

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Chelsea 4, Southampton 2.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Chelsea 4, Southampton 2.

  3. Goal!

    Goal! Chelsea 4, Southampton 2. Ryan Bertrand (Southampton) header from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Cédric Soares with a cross.

  4. Post update

    Nathan Redmond (Southampton) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  5. Post update

    Foul by César Azpilicueta (Chelsea).

  6. Substitution

    Substitution, Chelsea. Willian replaces Eden Hazard.

  7. Goal!

    Goal! Chelsea 4, Southampton 1. Diego Costa (Chelsea) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Pedro.

  8. Post update

    Corner, Chelsea. Conceded by Oriol Romeu.

  9. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Nemanja Matic (Chelsea) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by N'Golo Kanté.

  10. Substitution

    Substitution, Southampton. Jay Rodriguez replaces Manolo Gabbiadini.

  11. Substitution

    Substitution, Chelsea. John Terry replaces Victor Moses.

  12. Post update

    Attempt missed. Pedro (Chelsea) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by N'Golo Kanté.

  13. Substitution

    Substitution, Southampton. Shane Long replaces James Ward-Prowse.

  14. Post update

    Attempt missed. Diego Costa (Chelsea) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Eden Hazard with a cross following a corner.

  15. Post update

    Corner, Chelsea. Conceded by Fraser Forster.

  16. Post update

    Attempt saved. N'Golo Kanté (Chelsea) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Eden Hazard.

  17. Post update

    Corner, Southampton. Conceded by Nemanja Matic.

  18. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Steven Davis (Southampton) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

  19. Post update

    Corner, Southampton. Conceded by Victor Moses.

  20. Post update

    Corner, Southampton. Conceded by César Azpilicueta.

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Scores, Results & Fixtures

Tuesday 25th April 2017

As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Chelsea33253569294078
2Tottenham32218368224671
3Liverpool34199670422866
4Man City32197663352864
5Man Utd321712350242663
6Everton341610860372358
7Arsenal31176863402357
8West Brom33128133942-344
9Southampton32117143944-540
10Watford33117153754-1740
11Stoke34109153750-1339
12Crystal Palace33115174653-738
13Bournemouth34108164963-1438
14West Ham34108164459-1538
15Leicester32107154153-1237
16Burnley34106183349-1636
17Hull3496193667-3133
18Swansea3494213968-2931
19Middlesbrough33412172343-2024
20Sunderland3256212658-3221
View full Premier League table

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