Southampton suffered their first home defeat of the season in all competitions as Antonio Conte’s in-form Chelsea side emerged as 2-0 winners courtesy of a goal apiece from Eden Hazard and Diego Costa.
Despite having a respectable amount of possession, Saints struggled to break down a well-organised Blues defence and as a result slip to 9th in the Premier League table.
Chelsea took an early lead in the opening exchanges, with Hazard stepping inside midfielder Steven Davis before lashing an effort through the legs of Fraser Forster. Though Southampton produced a good showing in the first half, including saves from Hazard and Costa, Chelsea’s defensive qualities ultimately ensured a trip back to the dressing room with a one goal deficit.
On a week that saw Sofiane Boufal score with a wonderful curling effort against Sunderland, Diego Costa continued the trend by unleashing a shot from 22 yards beyond the outstretched arm of Forster to secure the three points.
Saints’ boss Claude Puel praised his side’s performance but admitted Chelsea’s counter-attacking style of play ultimately undid his side’s game plan.
“We played very well in the first half with so many possibilities and good play.” commented Puel.
“But it’s difficult to play against this team when you concede a goal after a few minutes. They can play their game with a strong defence and counter-attack.
“It was difficult to find solutions. It’s a disappointment because we tried to play good football. We can do better.”
For his counterpart Antonio Conte, the victory sees Chelsea continue to step in stride with the Premier League leaders, just a single point adrift of Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool in front virtue of their fourth consecutive league win.
“We knew today was a test against a strong side in good shape and form. It’s important to win games like this – people can increase their confidence and will to work and trust in the work.” said Conte.
“We created many chances. It’s the perfect game when strikers score and defenders don’t concede. The players deserved this; they work hard in training.
“When you see this type of game and commitment from your players, it’s fantastic for a coach.”