Antonio Conte’s Chelsea proved adverse to pressure as they recorded a comfortable 3-1 victory over Claude Puel’s Southampton at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday evening.
Eden Hazard gave the hosts the lead after just five minutes – his 15th Premier League goal of the season – firing past Fraser Forster in the Saints goal after receiving Diego Costa’s squared pass.
Nonetheless, Southampton struck back mid-way through the first-half, when Oriol Romeu tapped the ball into an empty net following Thibaut Courtois’ save from Manolo Gabbiadini’s strike.
Gary Cahill restored Chelsea’s lead just moments before the half-time whistle. Marcos Alonso’s ball across goal, following N’Golo Kante’s cross, allowed the England international to fire a header into the back of the net.
In the second period, Diego Costa’s 50th Premier League strike in Chelsea colours cemented the hosts’ lead, as he, too, headed past Forster, this time from a Cesc Fabregas cross.
Costa added a fourth late on; completing a stunning passing move. Then, in added time, former Chelsea-man Ryan Bertrand stepped up to score a second for the Saints, although little more than a consolation.
The Blues emerged from the encounter having, one again, proven their clinical edge. They managed 17 shots at goal, compared to the Saints’ 12, but their greater composure in the final third saw them secure a win.
Victory sees Chelsea extend their lead at the top of the table to seven points over Tottenham, who face Crystal Palace on Wednesday evening. Meanwhile, Southampton occupy ninth place, with 40 points.
Goals: Eden Hazard 5′, Oriol Romeu 24′, Gary Cahill 45+1′, Diego Costa 54′, 89′