Marcos Alonso scored the only goal of the game from a well taken free-kick to hand Chelsea a narrow 1-0 win over Southampton at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
Chelsea 1 Southampton 0
Forster double save
Alonso opens scoring after 45+3’
Courtois denies Austin
Hazard goal disallowed
Chelsea took the lead on the brink of half-time as Alonso produced a great effort from a free-kick that beat both the wall and Fraser Forster.
Charlie Austin came close to pulling one back for Saints after he tried to find the right-hand corner with his first touch off the bench, but Thibaut Courtois was there to make a smart save.
Chelsea’s first chance of the game came when Willian combined well with Alonso to pick up the ball in the Saints box before firing away a low effort wide of goal from 10 yards out.
Forster was called into action for the first time when Eden Hazard found Alonso with a looping cross, and the goalkeeper had to be alert to deny the Spaniard, before keeping out Gary Cahill a few moments later.
Around the half hour mark, Forster was tested again, this time by N’Golo Kante, who let loose a powerful shot after Hazard laid the ball off for him, to force a good save from the keeper.
Pedro then hit the post after beating James Ward-Prowse and substitute Mario Lemina before his effort took a deflection to hit the bottom of the woodwork as Chelsea continued to look threatening.
It was finally through a fantastic free-kick from Alonso though, that the Blues took the lead in the last minute of the first half. Maya Yoshida brought Hazard down to concede the free-kick and Alonso did the rest as he stepped up to curl an inch-perfect effort around a crumbling wall into the bottom left corner.
Southampton started the second half positively, and enjoyed much more possession in the first 15-minute period than they did in the opening half but struggled to break down the Chelsea defence.
Charlie Austin was introduced in place of Manolo Gabbiadini and almost had an immediate impact as his first involvement was to force a good save out of Courtois, who had to dive to his left to deny the striker.
Hazard thought he had bagged Chelsea’s second goal of the day. The Belgian played a one-two with substitute Cesc Fabregas before placing in the ball in the net, but Fabregas was ruled to have been offside. Forster then had to keep out a long-range effort from Alonso shortly after.
Fabregas had the last chance of the game when his effort was well blocked by the Saints stopper as Chelsea claimed a hard-earned victory to go level on points with second place Manchester United for the time being at least.
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) December 16, 2017