Chelsea vs. Southampton: Final score 3-1, Blues hit back to deny Saints

Ian Walton

Southampton scored in the opening minute of their game against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, but the Blues were able to get back into the game in the second half and took all three points from their Premier League encounter.

Chelsea took all three points from their clash against Southampton despite being stunned by a goal from the Saints in the opening minute.

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Jay Rodriguez took advantage of Michael Essien's mistake to score just thirteen seconds after kick-off, but Gary Cahill, John Terry and Demba Ba took full advantage of Southampton's weakness from set-pieces to hit back for the Blues.

Southampton got off to an incredible start after taking full advantage of some early Chelsea complacency - Michael Essien's lazy, high backpass was pounced upon by Jay Rodriguez, as the England forward raced in to stab home within seconds to put the Saints in front instantly.

Southampton's pressing, which has been such a huge part of their game since Mauricio Pochettino replaced Nigel Adkins at the club, was posing Chelsea problems as the new introductions to the squad, Michael Essien and Juan Mata, struggled to keep up. The latter in particular showed no reason that José Mourinho has been wrong to leave him out of the team with some wayward passes.

Despite their energy, however, the Saints were still uncharacteristically sluggish in getting back into defensive positions, and had little fluence in getting the ball forward. That allowed Oscar to work some space to get a chance for Chelsea, but fortunately for the visitors, Artur Boruc was alive to it.

Southampton were breaking promisingly on occasion but had little penetration, and the closest they came for a while after the goal was a poor free-kick from James Ward-Prowse, curling high and wide of Petr Cech's near post when he was perhaps better-positioned to cross the ball.

Oscar had an even better chance afterwards as he got on the end of a loose ball in the Southampton area after Jose Fonte missed his clearance, but the Brazilian once again failed to beat the impressive Boruc from close range. But for the visitors, Ward-Prowse would continue to disappoint, as he and Adam Lallana wasted a brilliant counter-attacking opportunity with an overhit cross and an underhit pass respectively.

Boruc would make his best save towards the end of the half, although it owed as much to poor finishing from Fernando Torres, whose header was far too close to the Pole. Chelsea suffered a setback after Oscar was forced off after taking a knock to be replaced by Frank Lampard, and Michael Essien was booked. The latter was replaced at half-time by Demba Ba, and Chelsea looked to get themselves back in the game.

Ba helped the Blues do exactly that. Southampton suffered a blow themselves as the excellent Boruc had to be withdrawn after becoming entangled with the goal net, and Paolo Gazzaniga came on as his replacement. He couldn't keep the Blues out for long - a flick from John Terry from a set-piece found the substitute Ba lurking, who was unfortunate to hit the post, but Gary Cahill was on hand to steer the ball home from close range and level the scores.

Chelsea's goal had been coming - although their finishing and fluency were poor, Southampton were struggling to keep the ball and inviting too much pressure. It was no surprise to see Chelsea take the lead thereafter, then - John Terry planted a fantastic header arcing into the far side of the net to finally take the lead for the hosts.

Demba Ba had a great chance to secure the win with a second goal afterwards after being played in on the edge of the area but skewed his shot just wide of the far post. Southampton simply didn't look like getting back into the game, but as the match entered the final ten minutes, the Saints did have two decent chances on the break - first Rickie Lambert failed to play in Rodriguez when he really should have shot, and secondly when the latter's cross evaded both Lambert and Osvaldo in the Chelsea area.

Southampton came forward several more times before the final whistle, but couldn't find any clear chances - Luke Shaw crossed far too close to Cech on one opportunity, while Osvaldo hooked an ambitious lob well off target afterwards. Southampton then paid for their wastefulness as they were punished with a soft goal to round the game off. Ramires rode several weak attempted tackles to cross into the box for Ba, whose sliding finish produced a tame effort, but Gazzaniga produced a terrible dive to let it creep into the goal.

That proved to be enough for Chelsea, who got over the early scare to keep José Mourinho's home record intact and get a deserved win. It was slightly disappointing from Southampton, who really should have made more of their first-half and brief second-half dominance. The early-season form of the Saints appears to be rapidly dwindling, and with more difficult games on the horizon, that'll be a concern.

Chelsea: Petr Cech; Cesar Azpilicueta, John Terry, Gary Cahill, Branislav Ivanovic; Ramires, Michael Essien (Ba 46'); Eden Hazard, Oscar (Lampard 42'), Juan Mata; Fernando Torres

Goals: Cahill 55', Terry 62', Ba 90'

Southampton: Artur Boruc (Gazzaniga 58'); Luke Shaw, Dejan Lovren, Jose Fonte, Nathaniel Clyne; Morgan Schneiderlin (Lambert 67'), Victor Wanyama; Jay Rodriguez, Adam Lallana, James Ward-Prowse (Davis 63'); Pablo Osvaldo.

Goals: Rodriguez 1'

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