Alonso free-kick sinks Saints

By SFC Media Sat 16 Dec Chelsea v Saints
Photo by Matt Watson | Southampton FC
Sat 16 Dec 3PM
Premier League
Chelsea
1
Southampton
0
Alonso [45+3']
Alonso (90+4')
Yoshida (45+2') Redmond (87') Stephens (87')
Referee: Roger East | Venue: Stamford Bridge | Attendance: 41,562

A set-piece was all that separated Southampton and Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Saturday afternoon, Marcos Alonso’s free-kick handing the home side the points.

The Spaniard’s curling effort on the stroke of half-time ensured that a combative Saints performance went unrewarded in West London.

Charlie Austin – a second-half substitute for Manolo Gabbiadini - twice tested Thibaut Courtois after the break as Mauricio Pellegrino’s men rallied late on but the 3,000 travelling supporters would be sent home disappointed.

Six changes were made to the side beaten by Leicester in the week with Jack Stephens and Wesley Hoedt restored alongside Maya Yoshida in defence.

Saints had pushed Manchester City and Arsenal all the way with a similar setup earlier in the month and they began brightly here at Stamford Bridge.

Early width came from Ryan Bertrand and Cédric Soares – the Portuguese withdrawn on 16 minutes for Mario Lemina – and it was the former that showed his team’s counter-attacking intent from the off.

Driving to the byline, the former Chelsea man crossed low into the box and dangerously into the legs of Gary Cahill with the goal unguarded and James Ward-Prowse waiting to pounce.

At the other end, a lunging Yoshida just did enough to pressure Willian into skewing wide from 12 yards and Fraser Forser twice kept out deflected efforts from Alonso and N’Golo Kanté.

The half’s clearest opening quickly followed on the half-hour mark. Eden Hazard’s mazy dribble made space for Willian on the right edge of the area only for Bertrand’s excellent sliding intervention to steer the ball away from goal and into the arms of Forster.

A Pedro shot bounced off the base of the post via a touch from Stephens as the Blues began to advance into visiting territory and the afternoon’s opening goal was not far behind.

Alonso’s curling free-kick into the bottom corner past the diving Forster was the final action of a half that undeservedly ended with Saints behind.


The introduction of Charlie Austin after the break almost yielded a Saints equaliser.

The home side began the second half much the stronger. Mauricio Pellegrino responded quickly by introducing Austin in place of Gabbiadini and the in-form frontman immediately posed a threat.

Scurrying in behind onto Pierre-Emile Højbjerg’s through ball, Austin’s first touch of the day set up the shot, the second was heading for the far corner only for Thibaut Courtois to palm the ball wide on the stretch.

An offside flag against substitute Cesc Fàbregas prevented Eden Hazard from extending the Blues’ advantage before Forster acrobatically denied Alonso from distance.

As the play became stretched, a second goal for either side seemed inevitable. Forster was sharp to keep out Àlvaro Morata from close range and within seconds Courtois was doing the same, scrambling clear Austin’s toe-poke from Sofiane Boufal’s threaded pass.

Within an instant, Fàbregas eluded Stephens at the back post and rolled the ball agonisingly along the goal-line to groans from the nervous home fans as the game entered its final 10 minutes.

Stephens’ near-post cross found Austin unmarked to steer inches wide on the run but Antonio Conte’s side managed the closing stages intelligently to kill off any lingering doubt.

An improvement on Wednesday night but not enough for Saints at the home of the reigning champions.



Chelsea

Head to Head Stats

Southampton
  • Possession (%)
    54
    46
  • Shots
    24
    6
  • Shots on target
    8
    2
  • Corners
    8
    4
  • Passes Complete
    467
    386

Chelsea

13
Thibaut Courtois (GK)
27
Andreas Christensen
24
Gary Cahill (C)
28
César Azpilicueta
15
Victor Moses
Davide Zappacosta (82′)
3
Marcos Alonso
7
N'Golo Kanté
14
Tiemoué Bakayoko
11
Pedro
Cesc Fàbregas (68′)
10
Eden Hazard
Álvaro Morata (73′)
22
Willian
6
Daniel Drinkwater
9
Álvaro Morata
23
Michy Batshuayi
2
Antonio Rüdiger
21
Davide Zappacosta
4
Cesc Fàbregas
1
Willy Caballero

Southampton

44
Fraser Forster (GK)
3
Maya Yoshida (C)
5
Jack Stephens
6
Wesley Hoedt
14
Oriol Romeu
23
Pierre-Emile Højbjerg
Sofiane Boufal (72′)
21
Ryan Bertrand
2
Cédric Soares
Mario Lemina (17′)
22
Nathan Redmond
16
James Ward-Prowse
20
Manolo Gabbiadini
Charlie Austin (61′)
11
Dusan Tadic
10
Charlie Austin
17
Virgil van Dijk
19
Sofiane Boufal
18
Mario Lemina
8
Steven Davis
13
Alex McCarthy
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