Southampton - Branislav Ivanovic's late
header capped a stirring Chelsea fight back as the visitors scored twice in the
last 15 minutes to win 2-1 at Southampton on Saturday.
Cesc Fabregas cancelled out Shane Long's
first half opener in the 75th minute before Ivanovic completed the comeback in
the 89th minute to extend interim manager Guus Hiddink's unbeaten domestic run
to 13 games since he took charge in December.
The victory moved Chelsea up to 11th in the
Premier League, while a first defeat - and first goal conceded - in seven
league games dented Southampton's hopes of challenging the top four, with
Ronald Koeman's side falling to seventh.
Hiddink has made no secret of the fact
Chelsea's priorities now lie with the FA Cup and the Champions League.
But with last season's champions still in
the bottom half of the table coming into this game, the Dutchman was clearly
anxious to maintain the momentum generated since he took charge.
There were, however, few signs of the
growing confidence that has been a feature of Chelsea's play during the last
two months and particularly in last weekend's 5-1 FA Cup defeat of an
under-strength Manchester City.
Instead, the first half confirmed
Southampton's resurgent form, with Koeman's side showing more purpose and
attacking intent while the visitors never threatened to end Saints goalkeeper
Fraser Forster's outstanding record of defiance.
Chelsea's defences looked the more
vulnerable and were first exposed after 10 minutes when they failed to deal
with a Southampton corner.
Saints centre-back Virgil van Dijk clipped
the loose ball back towards the far post where Long should have done much
better than head over after out-jumping his marker on the edge of the six-yard
But while Koeman's side may have been on
top, they created too few clear opportunities with Charlie Austin's 20-yard
shot one of the few efforts to threaten Thibaut Courtois' goal.
Nevertheless, the Chelsea back-line,
missing injured centre-backs John Terry and Kurt Zouma, appeared creaky
whenever Saints applied pressure.
And it was a defensive error that led to
Long giving the home side the lead three minutes before half-time.
Chelsea left-back Baba Rahman was the
guilty party, attempting to head a long clearance square towards Ivanovic
instead of clearing his lines.
That allowed Irish forward Long to
intercept and advance into the penalty area before clipping the ball over Courtois
for his ninth goal of the season.
Forster had been barely tested, but he was
fortunate to escape when Ryan Bertrand almost diverted the ball into his own
net immediately before the break.
After the restart, Chelsea finally began to
threaten as the momentum of the game shifted in their favour.
Eden Hazard's 56th minute cross picked out
Diego Costa at the far post, only for the Spain striker to volley wide.
Costa, though, was becoming the central
figure in the game, drawing fouls and earning a yellow card for a trip on Van
Dijk as tempers threatened to flare.
Even Koeman got involved in a tangle with
Cesar Azpilicueta as the Chelsea right-back tried to recover a ball that had
gone out for a throw-in in the technical area.
But it was Costa's determination that led
to the 75th minute equaliser, with the striker working hard to keep the ball
from rolling out for a throw-in and pulling back for Fabregas.
The Spain midfielder spotted Hazard making
a run into the box and curled a cross across the face of goal that drifted
inside the far post as Forster's attention was distracted by the onrushing
From that point, Chelsea appeared the most
likely winners and they completed their comeback one minute from time when
Ivanovic met Willian's corner to head home.