Chelsea kept pace with Premier League leaders Arsenal with a comeback win, 3-1 at home to Southampton on Sunday at Stamford Bridge. Gary Cahill, John Terry and Demba Ba scored in the second half, overturning Jay Rodriguez's early goal for the visitors.
The win extended Chelsea's unbeaten run at Stamford Bridge to 67 games under manager Jose Mourinho. With the result, the Blues took sole possession of second place on 27 points, four behind Arsenal.
Southampton lost for the second straight week following a 2-0 defeat at Arsenal last time out. The Saints remained seventh with 22 points.
Following Chelsea's midweek loss to Basel in the UEFA Champions League, Mourinho recalled playmaker Juan Mata into his starting XI, along with veteran midfielder Michael Essien and striker Fernando Torres. Defender David Luiz missed out with a knee injury.
For Southampton, Dejan Lovren and Dani Osvaldo came into the starting XI for Jos Hooiveld and Rickie Lambert. Jack Cork returned to the squad but remained on the bench.
Chelsea found themselves in trouble within seconds of the opening kickoff. Southampton started the match and lost possession quickly, but Essien played an errant backpass to goalkeeper Petr Cech.
Rodriguez pounced on the mistake and slotted past Cech for a quick goal—officially timed at 14 seconds—and an early 1-0 lead for Southampton.
Chelsea endured further bad news late in the first half when Oscar suffered an ankle injury in what appeared an innocuous challenge. Seconds before he was replaced by Frank Lampard, the Brazilian nearly equalised with a 41st-minute header that flew straight at Southampton goalkeeper Artur Boruc. The visitors came close again three minutes later, Torres forcing a fingertip save out of Boruc with a header.
Chelsea were level within 10 minutes of the restart. Boruc tipped over Lampard's free kick in the 54th minute, but from the resulting corner a minute later, Gary Cahill headed in the equaliser after Ba's shot rebounded off the near post.
That was the final involvement for Boruc, who left the match with a dislocated finger and was replaced by Paulo Gazzaniga.
Gazzaniga's first contribution was to pick the ball out of his own net.
Chelsea won a corner in the 62nd minute, and after Southampton initially cleared, Mata curled a cross into the box for Terry to direct a glancing header into the net for a 2-1 Chelsea lead.
Ba sealed the points with a poacher's finish in the 90th minute, turning in Ramires' cross from the left.
|Chelsea Player Ratings vs. Southampton|
|John Obi Mikel||6|
|Southampton Player Ratings vs. Chelsea|
This was the first of nine matches in December for Chelsea. The Blues play at Sunderland on Wednesday before a trip to Stoke on Sunday. Both matches are in the Premier League.