Spoils shared after six-goal thriller

By SFC Media time Sat 17 Oct Chelsea v Saints
Photo by Matt Watson
Sat 17 Oct 3PM
Premier League
Chelsea
3
Southampton
3
Werner [15' 28'] Havertz [59']
goal
Ings [43'] Adams [57'] Vestergaard [90+2']
Chilwell (48')
yellow card
Romeu (84')
Referee: Peter Bankes | Venue: Stamford Bridge | Attendance: 0

Southampton rescued a deserved point courtesy of a dramatic last-gasp equaliser from Jannik Vestergaard on Saturday afternoon - the final action in a bonkers game that shared six goals at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea looked home and dry following a dominant first period, which contained a well-executed brace from Timo Werner, but star man Danny Ings gave Saints life shortly before the break, and a platform from which to build.

Ché Adams grabbed his first goal of the campaign following a bizarre misunderstanding between Kurt Zouma and Kepa, before a further two goals were scored by Kai Havertz and Vestergaard respectively.

The point was no less than Saints' performance warranted after a resurgent second 45 minutes, where new boy - or old boy dependent on your viewpoint - Theo Walcott fittingly provided the assist for a stoppage time leveler.

Plenty of talking points from a thrilling Premier League encounter, one that Saints will surely take great confidence from, having been twice behind, but twice able to stage a comeback.

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 17: Theo Walcott of Southampton during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Southampton at Stamford Bridge on October 17, 2020 in London, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Getty Images)
Theo Walcott back in a Saints shirt after a 14-year absence

All the preliminary chat centered around the much-anticipated presence of Walcott, following his return to the club from Everton a fortnight ago, and in the absence of Stuart Armstrong, a second Southampton debut appeared irresistible from the outset.

Indeed, the number 32 adorned the teamsheet come 2pm, the same number Walcott wore in his teenage years at Saints - representing one of two changes to the team that dispatched West Brom last time out.

And with nostalgia dominating pre-match proceedings, Saints were hoping the performance was too reminiscent of a previous time, having delivered perhaps the best 90-minute showing of 2019/20 at Stamford Bridge last term. Suffice to say, 2020/21's edition did not disappoint.

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 17: N'Golo Kante(L) of Chelea and Danny Ings(R) of Southampton during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Southampton at Stamford Bridge on October 17, 2020 in London, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Getty Images)
Danny Ings battles with N'golo Kante

Encouragingly, there was also a place on the bench for fellow newcomer Ibrahima Diallo, poised to make his first appearance in a Saints shirt, with Hasenhüttl clear about the need to bolster options in midfield before the summer window concluded.

The hosts began vibrantly, quick to seize control of the opening exchanges. Chelsea looked purposeful in attack and forced Alex McCarthy into a double save within minutes, denying both Ben Chilwell and Havertz instinctively.

Debut day, part two, began brightly for winger Walcott, who looked to have been given free license to reign down the right, as he linked well with Adams in the ninth minute but wasn’t able to destabilise Kepa with a tame finish.

Werner did convert Chilwell’s cross moments later, but the linesman’s flag was raised quickly, which only temporarily diverted the danger. A brilliant solo run from the determined German made Saints pay in the 16th minute, as he dribbled his way into a shooting position before firing low past an unsighted McCarthy. The initial dummy to engineer the space was clever, with Jan Bednarek caught out, as Saints suffered first blow.

Blessed with an overwhelming amount of attacking talent, Chelsea continued to dominate the first quarter, with Mason Mount looking to make an impression on the scoreline 26 minutes in, wriggling free in the box but unable to get purchase on the shot.

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 17:  Kyle Walker-Peters (L) of Southampton and Mason Mount (R) of Chelsea during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Southampton at Stamford Bridge on October 17, 2020 in London, United Kingdom. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Getty Images)
Kyle Walker-Peters battles with Mason Mount

Werner’s presence spelt more trouble for Saints in the next wave of attack, though. Jorginho played a pass from deep in search of the striker who was tussling with Bednarek. Maintaining his balance, he somehow managed to lift the ball over McCarthy before charging towards goal to apply the finishing touch with his head.

Jorginho will be unlucky not to be credited with the assist, but in truth Werner created the opportunity himself with a shrewd piece of forward play, outwitting the Saints defence once more.

The power of Chelsea in the final third was telling, but equally apparent were their vulnerabilities defensively, something that Saints’ leading marksman was keen to exploit. It had been a quiet afternoon for the England international prior to the 43rd minute, but Ings was nevertheless alert when an opportunity eventually presented itself. He was made to wait, but no less clinical when called upon.

Havertz's mistake instigated the chance, caught on the ball in his own half by Adams, allowing Ings the opening he needed to deceive Kepa with a wonderful touch before slotting into a gaping goal, halving the deficit before a half-time breather. A beacon of hope for the visitors, executed perfectly by the eminent Ings.

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 17:  Danny Ings(R) of Southampton after scoring during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Southampton at Stamford Bridge on October 17, 2020 in London, United Kingdom. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Getty Images)
Danny Ings rounds Kepa to score Saints' first of the game

Saints appeared rejuvenated by the lifeline and began the second period with vigour. Ings spearheaded each attack, giving the Chelsea backline plenty to think about, as a low diagonal effort flew no more than a foot wide of the upright in the 54th minute.

As if by magic, confidence began streaming through the visitors’ forward play, forcing Chelsea into a comedy of errors three minutes later. Zouma looked to have some routine tidying up to do, attempting to play the ball back to Kepa but under-hitting his pass by quite some distance.

Kepa then raced off his line to atone for the defender’s miscalculation, only to have it dinked past him by Adams. A melee followed. It involved both Ings and Adams, before the ball fell kindly to the latter and he rifled into the roof of the net to level the scores.

Joy was transitory for Saints, as no sooner had they celebrated the equaliser, they found themselves once again trailing. A frantic half showed no signs of stopping as Chelsea hit on the break in the 59th minute, leading to an easy finish for Havertz. Christian Pulisic started the move, playing in Werner down the right who squared to an unmarked Havertz centrally; advantage Chelsea, again.

Frustratingly, momentum had swung Saints’ way momentarily, but the home side’s firepower proved devastating in most situations, not least on the counter-attack, with pace and precision that would cut through most backlines.

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 17: Ché Adams (R) of Southampton beates Chelsea keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga (L) during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Southampton at Stamford Bridge on October 17, 2020 in London, United Kingdom. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Getty Images)
Saints level before Chelsea strike for a third time

Life in the game yet, Adams had another chance to restore parity in the 78th minute, squandering an effort presented to him by Walcott. Saints certainly weren’t going down without a fight.

Sandwiched between a couple of half chances for Chelsea was another break for Ings, who forced a good save from Kepa through a thicket of legs. Walcott again was the provider but to no avail for Saints who were desperately trying to salvage something from a thoroughly entertaining game.

Nathan Tella and Shane Long were introduced for the final 10 minutes – fresh attacking impetus – as was Diallo, making his debut late on. Saints continued to chase the game, willing the ball forward at every possibility. There looked to be at least one more notable chance left in it. Indeed, there was.

Ryan Bertrand’s free-kick from the left was collected by Walcott, who attempted the shot which landed fortuitously onto the head of Vestergaard, as he glanced it goalward and watched the ball settle in the far corner. And as if an injury time leveler wasn’t enough for Saints, there was still time for one last crack at a shell-shocked Chelsea, with Walcott dragging an effort wide of the mark. What a fairytale ending that could have been! Not to be, but an afternoon of excitement rewarded with an all-important point all the same, as Saints extend their unbeaten run to three games.

Chelsea

Head to Head Stats

Southampton
  • Possession (%)
    53
    comparison angle
    47
  • Shots
    11
    comparison angle
    13
  • Shots on target
    5
    comparison angle
    6
  • Corners
    6
    comparison angle
    2
  • Passes Complete
    468
    comparison angle
    381

Chelsea

1
Kepa Arrizabalaga (GK)
21
Ben Chilwell yellow card
28
César Azpilicueta (C)
4
Andreas Christensen
15
Kurt Zouma
29
Kai Havertz goal
10
Christian Pulisic
replace Reece James (87′)
5
Jorginho
7
N'Golo Kanté
19
Mason Mount
replace Hakim Ziyech (72′)
11
Timo Werner goal goal
replace Tammy Abraham (90′)
9
Tammy Abraham
13
Willy Caballero
20
Callum Hudson-Odoi
22
Hakim Ziyech
24
Reece James
14
Fikayo Tomori
18
Olivier Giroud

Southampton

1
Alex McCarthy (GK)
3
Ryan Bertrand
35
Jan Bednarek
4
Jannik Vestergaard goal
2
Kyle Walker-Peters
6
Oriol Romeu yellow card
replace Ibrahima Diallo (87′)
32
Theo Walcott
11
Nathan Redmond
replace Nathan Tella (77′)
8
James Ward-Prowse (C)
10
Che Adams goal
replace Shane Long (86′)
9
Danny Ings goal
7
Shane Long
5
Jack Stephens
44
Fraser Forster
18
Yan Valery
23
Nathan Tella
27
Ibrahima Diallo
14
Michael Obafemi
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