John Terry marked his 400th Premier League game for Chelsea by scoring a key goal against Southampton. Fellow centre half Gary Cahill had earlier cancelled out Jay Rodriguez’s first minute opener in a second half revival. Sub Demba Ba then sealed victory for the hosts late on at Stamford Bridge.
Blues boss Jose Mourinho made four changes after losing away to Basel in the Champions League midweek. Fernando Torres replaced the injured Samuel Eto’o up front. Willian, John Obi Mikel and Frank Lampard dropped to the bench with Juan Mata, Eden Hazard and Michael Essien starting.
Saints coach Mauricio Pochettino meanwhile fielded an XI with two alterations to the team that suffered defeat at Premier League leaders Arsenal. Dejan Lovren and Dani Osvaldo replaced Jos Hooiveld and Rickie Lambert.
Essien made a nightmare start with a woeful back-pass setting Rodriguez away in behind the home defence. The England forward fired beyond Petr Cech with less than 15 seconds played. Chelsea took their time responding with Oscar stinging the palms of Artur Boruc with an 18-yard drive.
Chances were something of a novelty in the first half, though Oscar headed a Torres centre straight at the Saints stopper. This was the Brazilian’s last involvement as he earlier picked up an ankle knock and went off. Frank Lampard came on before the break.
Boruc then plunged to his left and kept out a Torres header. The Blues striker had some company in attack for the second as Mourinho brought Ba on for Essien. Lampard forced Boruc to tip a free kick over, but Southampton conceded from the resulting corner.
Cahill smuggled in the rebound when Mata delivered from the right and Branislav Ivanovic’s header was diverted onto the post by Ba. Boruc hurt his hand during the Chelsea equaliser and had to come off. Argentina keeper Paulo Gazzaniga replaced him.
The replacement Saints stopper’s first job was to pick the ball out of his own net as Terry nodded in the second ball from another corner. Mata saw the initial delivery cleared but only to Lampard on the edge of the box. He got it back and crossed again for Blues skipper Terry, who completed the turnaround.
Pochettino looked to Rickie Lambert off the visitors’ bench to rescue them as he replaced the injured Morgan Schneiderlin, but Chelsea continued to attack with Ba dragging just wide. The Senegal striker did cap victory in the final minute before stoppage time when he turned in Ramires’s centre on the stretch.
Mourinho has his charges a clear second in the table – four behind Arsenal, but two clear of Manchester City in third. Southampton slip to seventh, yet can console themselves by being level on points with reigning champions Manchester United.
- Chelsea: 1 Petr Cech, 2 Branislav Ivanovic, 24 Gary Cahill, 26 John Terry (c), 28 Cesar Azpilicueta, 7 Ramires, 5 Michael Essien (19 Demba Ba 46’), 10 Juan Mata, 11 Oscar (8 Frank Lampard 42’), 17 Eden Hazard, 9 Fernando Torres (12 John Obi Mikel 84’) 4-2-3-1
- Goals: Gary Cahill 55’, John Terry 62’, Demba Ba 90’
- Southampton: 31 Artur Boruc (25 Paulo Gazzaniga 58’), 2 Nathaniel Clyne, 6 Jose Fonte, 5 Dejan Lovren, 23 Luke Shaw, 12 Victor Wanyama, 4 Morgan Schneiderlin (7 Rickie Lambert 67’), 16 James Ward-Prowse (8 Steven Davis 63’), 20 Adam Lallana (c), 9 Jay Rodriguez, 17 Pablo Daniel Osvaldo 4-2-3-1
- Goals: Jay Rodriguez 1’