Olivier Giroud came of the bench to score two goals as Chelsea came back from a two-goal deficit to beat relegation-threatened Southampton 3-2 at St Mary’s Stadium.
Southampton 2 Chelsea 3
Tadic (21′), Bednarek (60′) put Saints ahead
Giroud (70′) gets one back
Hazard (75′) equalises
Giroud (78′) bags winner
The Saints took the lead in the first half through Dusan Tadic before Jan Bednarek doubled the advantage as the 21-year-old converted James Ward-Prowse’s free-kick to bag a goal on debut.
Giroud then came off the bench and notched a brace as Chelsea scored three goals in nine minutes to turn the game on its head with Eden Hazard also getting onto the scoresheet.
Southampton looked well organised from the start as they managed to keep Chelsea at bay in the early minutes whilst threatening down the left-hand flank.
The patience from Saints paid off as Tadic opened the scoring in the 21st minute. A brilliant run from Ryan Bertrand saw the left back beat Cesar Azpilicueta for pace into the box before finding Tadic who comfortably buried a side-footed effort into the back of the net.
Eight minutes before half time, Thibaut Courtois was called into action again as Ward-Prowse let loose an effort from range with enough venom to force a block from the Belgian keeper before Tadic’s follow up effort was ruled offside.
Marcos Alonso went into the book shortly before half-time after a nasty challenge on the back of Shane Long. Replays showed he was lucky the card was only a yellow as the challenge was late and nowhere near the ball and Mike Dean eventually blew the half-time whistle.
The Saints started the second half brightly and Long made a great run away from the Blues defence before Andreas Christensen brought him down inside the box. With the referee nowhere to be seen, Long was quickly up on his feet and got away a deflected shot which forced a great save out of Courtois.
Debutant Jan Bednarek then made is mark on the game as he bagged his first top-flight goal. A gorgeous delivery from a Ward-Prowse set piece saw the ball fall to the fullback who blasted past Courtois.
The second goal prompted a change from the Chelsea dugout as Olivier Giroud was introduced – and he had the desired impact, rising to nod Alonso’s cross into the net to put his side on the scoresheet in the 70th minute.
The goal brought Chelsea back to life as Willian made a good run down the left before squaring to Hazard who took a touch and curled an effort into the top left corner to bring the Blues level.
It was then Giroud to the rescue again as he bagged his second of the day to complete the comeback. A scrappy affair in the box saw the ball fall to the Frenchman whose snapshot found the bottom right corner with Southampton looking visibly shell-shocked.
Chelsea then resisted a late Saints surge to secure a crucial three points as they desperately chase a place in the Champions League while still trailing the top four by seven points.