Chelsea’s boss Antonio Conte made some decisive changes in his weekend squad for FA Cup semifinal against Tottenham Hotspur. He rested Eden Hazard and Diego Costa on the bench and he was criticized for not taking FA Cup seriously, but finally he had the last laugh as his team won the match 4-2 to book a place in final against Arsenal. He didn’t want to lose the Premier League midweek game against Southampton, so he rested his key players, but Saints made his job easier as they failed to produce any upset moment to the Blues.
Eden Hazard making a fresh start gave a good start to the Chelsea finding the net in first five minutes of the game. Then Gary Cahill added another before the break after Oriol Romeu equalized for Southampton. Second half was an easy ride for the Blues as Saint failed to make an impact and Diego Costa finds his form back with a brace. Ryan Bertrand did try to add some fight back in closing minute, but it was too late to make an impact.
Full-time: Chelsea 4-2 Southampton! ?
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) April 25, 2017
Diego Costa and Eden Hazard combined well for the first Chelsea’s goal. Spaniard returned a pass back to the Belgian captain, and Hazard made no mistake from 15 yards to fire the ball into the low corner at the far post.
However, the lead doesn’t last long. Southampton were back into the game when Oriol Romeu latched onto a loose ball from close range. Azpilicueta failed to clear Southampton corner and Gabbiadiani had a short on target from the difficult angle. Courtois made the block but failed to collect the ball safely in his hand, and Romeu made no mistake to equalize for the Saints.
The equalizer must have given Mauricio Pochettino side some relief who must be closely watching the match, but Conte knows better how to defend being an Italian and attack when opportunity arrives.
In first half injury time Chelsea again took their lead thanks to Gary Cahill header from N’Golo Kante’s cross. Southampton cleared a Chelsea corner in jittery, but Kante played the ball back into the box, where Alonso tried to provide a headed assist to Costa. However, Costa overhead kick missed the ball and Cahill met the ball brilliantly and headed it into the net.
It wasn’t even 10 minutes in the second half and Chelsea were 3-1 up. Diego Costa ends his dry spell with a perfectly timed header, but it was Hazard and Fabregas who worked together on the cross to give Chelsea another lead. Fabregas took a short corner passing the ball to Hazard, and Hazard pass it back to Fabregas and Spaniard curls a well measured cross into the area.
Hazard, Fabregas and Costa, the trio who were on bench against Spurs in FA Cup semifinal made their presence felt coming from the bench on Saturday, and they impact the game today from first kick. Although, Fabregas makes room for Pedro in last quarter, Southampton continues to struggle. Costa got his second of the night in 89th minute with one two exchange among Hazard, Pedro and himself, before finishing it from 10 yards.
The game was over and Southampton didn’t live up to the expectation to cause problems for Chelsea, although they did have the consolation in closing minutes. Bertrand headed in from Cedric cross to make it 4-2, but it wasn’t enough to upset the Premier League leaders as they goes seven points clear on top. Second placed Tottenham Hotspur have a difficult away game against Crystal Palace on Wednesday, who have already defeated Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool in last six fixtures.