Fernando Torres Ends Chelsea's Away Day Hoodoo in Victory over Southampton

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Fernando Torres Ends Chelsea's Away Day Hoodoo in Victory over Southampton
Warren Little/Getty Images

With 2013 fast disappearing in his rear-view mirror, Fernando Torres made the perfect start to the new year as he helped Chelsea on their way to a three-goal victory against Southampton.

It was another vital win for the Blues in what has become an excellent period for them, with Jose Mourinho's side remaining undefeated over the Christmas period, taking 10 points from a possible 12.

Their form means Chelsea are right at the heart of what now seems a three-way race for the title, competing with Manchester City and Arsenal for top spot.

Just as significantly, however, Chelsea's 3-0 defeat of the Saints on Wednesday saw Torres open the scores, thus ending a horrible run that has seen none of the club's strikers register a Premier League goal away from Stamford Bridge throughout the past calender year.

Warren Little/Getty Images

In fact, prior to the Southampton game, it was Torres who was the last man to score an away goal for Chelsea when he grabbed a brace in a 3-1 victory over Sunderland on Dec. 8, 2012.

Since then, though, it's been left to others to pick up the points on the road, with Samuel Eto'o and Demba Ba joining Torres on the list of Blues strikers who have fired blanks.

It must be a big relief for Mourinho, but also adds weight to the notion things are beginning to look up for the Blues and their strikers.

For so long they have been maligned for a lack of goals this term, yet in recent times they have played a vital role in Chelsea's good fortunes.

Against Liverpool just three days earlier, it was Eto'o who sealed the three points with his first-half strike to give Chelsea a 2-1 lead they would not relinquish. And against Southampton, Torres pounced to help turn his team's supremacy into points on the board.

Warren Little/Getty Images

Indeed, up to that point it seemed the headlines of the past year were going to ring true in 2014, with Chelsea wasteful in front of goal and failing to make their supremacy count.

On the hour, though, it was their Spanish striker who reacted quickest to a rebound from Oscar's effort that had struck the post, nodding into an empty net.

Of all the goals Torres has scored for Chelsea, it is possibly the most simple, yet it's significance cannot be lost.

As we enter the second half of the season, Mourinho's plans are beginning to take hold at Stamford Bridge. Things are clicking into place and by ending their barren spell away from West London, Chelsea's strikers are now playing their part.

Mourinho would have preferred that happened earlier in the campaign, although he certainly isn't going to be complaining now.

That said, he will feel aggrieved that Oscar took the shine off a convincing display at St. Mary's after he was booked for simulation, making the most of a tackle by Southampton's Kelvin Davies.

Oscar had rounded the goalkeeper and was all set to tap the ball into the net when he opted to dive instead, receiving a caution for his troubles.

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"It was deserved—a good yellow card from [referee] Martin Atkinson. Oscar is a clean player who was waiting for the goalkeeper to smash him," Mourinho said to BBC Sport afterwards.

"The goalkeeper was coming then stopped so in the end Oscar is trying to touch the goalkeeper instead of the goalkeeper smashing him.

"It was a fair yellow card but I also accept Oscar's explanation to me. When he saw the goalkeeper coming he is thinking 'penalty and red card' but the goalkeeper has a lot of experience and stopped."

That incident aside, it's been a happy start to the new year for all at Stamford Bridge.

Garry Hayes is Bleacher Report's lead Chelsea correspondent and will be following the club from a London base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter @garryhayes

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