Marcos Alonso’s dazzling free-kick earned Chelsea a 1-0 triumph against Southampton in the Premier League on Saturday, strenght the club home record to five straight games.
Despite the fact that the scoreline proposes a tight match, the champions ruled all through and could have won much more easily had Fraser Forster not performed also in the visitors’ goal, while Eden Hazard had a strike ruled for a marginal offside against substitute Cesc Fabregas.
The win moves Chelsea level on points with second-place Manchester United, who go to West Brom on Sunday, while Southampton – who dropped Virgil van Dijk – are winless in five Premier League matches.
Chelsea were on top all through the main half at Stamford Bridge, with Forster making different saves and a Pedro deflection redirecting onto the post.
The amazing Alonso broke the gridlock just before half-time, however, twisting a delightful free-kick into the base left corner from 25 yards out for his fourth goals of the season.
Charlie Austin had two fine opportunities to level the scores yet couldn’t discover a path past Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, whose saves secured a fourth progressive Premier League triumph over Southampton for the Blues.
MATCH FACTS AND STATS
CHELSEA (3-4-2-1): Courtois 7; Azpilicueta 7, Christensen 7, Cahill 7; Moses 6.5 (Zappacosta 82), Bakayoko 6.5, Kante 7, Alonso 7.5; Pedro 6.5 (Fabregas 68, 6.5), Willian 8; Hazard 7 (Morata 73)
Subs not used: Caballero, Rudiger, Drinkwater, Batshuayi.
Manager: Antonio Conte: 7
SOUTHAMPTON (3-4-2-1): Forster 7.5; Stephens 7, Yoshida 6, Hoedt 6.5; Cedric 6 (Lemina 17, 6), Romeu 6.5, Hojberg 7 (Boufal 72), Bertrand 6.5; Ward-Prowse 6.5, Redmond 6.5; Gabbiadini 5 (Austin 61, 6.5)
Subs not used: McCarthy, Davis, Van Dijk
Booked: Yoshida, Redmond, Stephens
Manager: Manuel Pellegrino: 6
Referee – Roger East: 6
Forster punched away an Alonso volley and the goalkeeper then made saves from Cahill and N’Golo Kante shot as Chelsea cranked up pressure.
Terrific wing play from Willian created another opening for Alonso after 32 minutes, but Forster got down quickly to push the Spaniard’s arrowed strike around his right-hand post.
Chelsea continued to exploit weakness down Southampton’s right after Cedric Soares’ 17th-minute exit due to injury, Pedro cutting inside but seeing his shot deflect onto the woodwork.
And on the stroke of half-time, Chelsea scored the goal their dominance deserved. Hazard’s driving run was ended by Maya Yoshida, with Alonso stepping up to beat Forster with a dipping effort from the resultant free-kick.