(Eden Hazard, Diego Costa)
St Mary’s Stadium
It would take something amazing to match what I witnessed yesterday. All the football I go to doesn’t mean a thing in comparison to when you see the team you have supported since you were small win a game.
I could visit hundreds of grounds and see countless teams win but to see 11 Crewe Alexandra players go out there and win a game is always going to be a decent afternoon out on a Saturday.
So Southampton versus Chelsea was never quite going to live up to expectation.
After enduring a fairly average game of football on Wednesday when Saints hosted Sunderland, I was still keen to get my hands on a ticket for their league match with Chelsea, after all, people are always telling me to stop watching that non league rubbish and get yourself down to watch some decent players. So I thought why not see what the fuss is about, I haven’t seen Chelsea play for a few years (a 0-0 draw with Stoke on my birthday if I remember correctly).
The busy Saturday was taking its toll and as I sat squished in my seat behind the goal at St Mary’s I was struggling to keep my eyes open after an early Eden Hazard goal pretty much killed the game after five minutes.
Regular readers will know I have been to St Mary’s a lot over the past few weeks so check out my previous visits for my notes on the stadium.
Southampton’s five game unbeaten run in the Premier League came to an end at the hands of Chelsea thanks to goals from Eden Hazard and Diego Costa.
Belgium international Hazard scored on six minutes before Costa hit a beautiful strike into the back of the net in the second half to confirm the three points for the Blues.
Saints looked lively in the opening moments and an early chance fell to former Chelsea man Oriol Romeu who could only blast the ball over the crossbar after Dusan Tadic had worked a good opportunity on the right flank with some good skill.
Chelsea were gifted an early goal when Victor Moses played a lovely pass into the box to Hazard who cut inside Steven Davis before slotting the ball through the legs of Fraser Forster and into the back of the net from a tight angle.
Southampton went looking for a response but the visitors piled men behind the ball to protect their advantage. Tadic did force a good low diving save from Thibaut Courtois from a well taken free kick after he was fouled by Marcus Alonso.
Costa nearly doubled the lead when Nemanja Matic split the defence with a through ball but the striker could only fire straight at Forster who blocked it with his legs and out of danger.
In the second half Saints captain Jose Fonte stopped Chelsea adding to their lead when Alonso crossed low to Hazard who looked poised to tap in but Fonte managed to slide in and divert the ball away from goal.
The Blues did double their lead through a touch of class from Spain striker Diego Costa. Having exchanged passes with Hazard, the striker picked the ball up on the edge of the box before curling in a magnificent finesse shot into the corner of the net away from the outstretched Forster.
Chelsea rarely put a foot wrong in the game, showing why they are in the top four of one of the best leagues in the world.
Southampton had to dig deep to hold on against Chelsea who went close to adding a third when Forster couldn’t keep hold of Moses’ shot and Hazard, Costa and Pedro all had a go at working a shooting opportunity before Romeu cleared.
Charlie Austin missed a great chance to pull one back when Tadic played in Ryan Bertrand to cross into the box but Austin rose highest but couldn’t direct the chance on target.
As the game wore on, Antonio Conte’s Chelsea were a constant threat in attack and Hazard forced another good save from Forster before Fonte put the ball out of play.
Saints did come close when Cuco Martina drifted in a cross which Steven Davis could only glance off the top of the crossbar adding to a frustrating afternoon in front of goal.
Forster made another good save to keep the score low when he parried Moses’ shot away as Chelsea looked to add to the score.
Saints did have the ball in the back of the net when Austin got the better of David Luiz and stroked the ball in past Courtois but the linesman had his flag up on the far side to sum up a rotten afternoon up for Southampton.
2016/17 Games: 50
2016/17 Grounds: 41
Total Grounds Visited: 176