John Terry's header put Chelsea 2-1 up as a second half comeback, masterminded by Mourinho, put the Blues within touching distance of top spot.

Chelsea 3-1 Southampton: Stirring comeback sends Blues second (video)

Leave a comment

 

LONDON — Chelsea mounted a surging second half comeback to down Southampton 3-1 at Stamford Bridge on Sunday as Jose Mourinho’s men moved into second spot.

Second half headers from central defenders Gary Cahill and John Terry and a late strike from Demba Ba sealed the win for Chelsea, after Jay Rodriguez had stunned the home fans after putting Southampton ahead after just 13 seconds.

The Saints were comfortable during the first half and looked in real danger of ending Jose Mourinho’s 66 PL unbeaten record at home but, inevitably, Chelsea came out rejuvenated in the second half as two goals in seven minutes swung the game in their favor.

With the victory they move up to second on 27 points and four points behind leaders Arsenal, while Southampton are seventh with 22 points.

The visitors stunned the home fans as both sets of fans had hardly taken to their seats when Southampton went 1-0 up in West London.

It took just 13 seconds for the Saints to break the deadlocked as Chelsea’s home supporters sat in stunned silence as Rodriguez wheeled away in jubilation. A long ball down Southampton’s right saw Michael Essien give the ball away which found Rodriguez who slotted home when clean through on Petr Cech, a fantastic start for the Saints.

Saints’ fans were in dreamland as they taunted Chelsea boss Mourinho with chants of “You’re not special anymore” and “Who needs Mourinho? We’ve got Mauricio.”

It was the third time this season in the PL that a player has scored after 13 seconds, with Asmir Begovic’s goal vs. Southampton and Jesus Navas’ strike for Man City against Spurs the other two times it happened.

After that early goal Chelsea tried to get on the front foot and had the majority of possession as they aimed to get back on level terms. However Saints looked dangerous on the break.

On 19 minutes Oscar found some space and hit a rasping shot which Southampton ‘keeper Artur Boruc could only parry into a whole host of bodies as Branislav Ivanovic hooked his acrobatic effort over the bar.

The game settled down after the initial frantic opening as Victor Wanyama broke up play in midfield and stopped Chelsea getting any rhythm going.

Saints went close to doubling their lead midway through the first half but James Ward-Prowse’s free kick flew just wide of the post.

As the home fans started to grow restless at Stamford Bridge, Saints surged forward with England internationals Adam Lallana and Rodriguez looking incredibly dangerous with pace, skill and direct running at Chelsea’s defense.

Just before half time Lallana wriggled free of his marker but dragged on effort wide as the away side looked more likely to add to their tally rather then Chelsea equalizing.

That said Oscar did put a free header straight at Boruc in the 40th minute as the Brazilian went off injured soon after as Frank Lampard replaced him.

Moments later Chelsea thought they’d leveled things up as Torres’ header looked destined for the far corner of the net, but Southampton ‘keeper Boruc somehow made a sprawling stop to deny the Spanish striker and Saints then hooked the ball away to safety.

Southampton went in ahead as Chelsea were 45 minutes away from losing their incredible unbeaten home record.

At the interval Demba Ba came on for Michael Essien as Chelsea put two up front to try and force their way back into the game.

source: Getty Images
Rodriguez gave Saints a shock early lead as he netted after just 13 seconds.

But it was Southampton who continued to be in ascendancy as they hunted in packs to stifle any creative influence Chelsea tried to get going. In the 54th minute Lampard sent a free kick toward goal as Boruc tipped it over and out for a corner.

From that resulting set piece Chelsea equalized as Ba’s effort hit the post and Gary Cahill somehow steered the ball over the line with his head to make it 1-1.

In the goalmouth scramble surrounding the goal, Saints ‘keeper Boruc was injured and had to be replaced by young Argentine ‘keeper Paolo Gazzaniga.

Soon after the substitute was picking the ball out of the back of the net, as Chelsea captain Terry scored a wonderful header in the 62nd minute as his glancing effort flew into top corner to turn the game on its head.

Buoyed by their comeback, Chelsea poured forward with renewed vigor as the home fans cranked up the noise volumes as Southampton struggled to cope with the pace and verve of Chelsea’s attack. Ba beat the offside trap in the 71st minute but put his effort wide after going clean through on goal.

Rickie Lambert came off the bench for Saints as they scrapped to get back into the game and grab an equalizer in the closing stages. Daniel Osvaldo came close with a swiveling volley from the edge of the box but the Italian internationals effort flew just over the bar.

Try as they might Saints couldn’t find an equalizer and Chelsea capped off the win as Ba prodded home from close range in the final minute to make it 3-1.

LINEUPS

Chelsea: Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta; Essien (Ba, 45), Ramires; Mata, Oscar (Lampard, 41), Hazard; Torres (Mikel, 82)

Goals: Cahill (55), Terry (62), Ba (90)

Southampton: Boruc (Gazaaniga, 58) Clyne, Fonte, Lovren, Shaw, Wanyama, Schneiderlin (Lambert, 67), Ward-Prowse (S. Davis, 63), Lallana, Rodriguez, Osvaldo.

Goal: Rodriguez (1)

Too early for Guardiola to concede Premier League title?

Leave a comment

Pep Guardiola suffered his worst-ever league defeat as a manager on Sunday as Manchester City were hammered 4-0 at Everton in the Premier League.

Post-game he was understandably glum.

[ MORE: Klopp slams United ]

Guardiola even appeared to concede the Premier League title, as the preseason favorites for the crown have now fallen 10 points behind leaders Chelsea with 17 games to go.

When asked if City’s title hopes were over after a fifth defeat of the season, the Spaniard’s answer was emphatic.

“Yes. Ten is a lot of points,” Guardiola said. “The second one [Tottenham] is three points. We have to see. I spoke to my players the last three weeks or a month, forget about the table. Focus on the next game and try to do our best to win the games and after that at the end of the season we are going to evaluate how our level and performance was — how was the coach, how was the players and after we are going to decide.”

It seems like Guardiola has already decided that the title race is over for City, but has he thrown in the towel too early?

With just five points separating second-place Tottenham with sixth-place Manchester United, it appears City’s primary focus will now be to finish in the top four as a mammoth battle ensues in the final third of the season.

Yet, we have seen some miraculous comebacks from teams in the past to win the title. These stats could give Pep hope.

In the 1997-98 season, Arsenal were 12 points behind United after 21 games of the season (United had played a game more) but roared back to win the PL by one point. And of course, City’s two PL crowns came courtesy of stunning late surges in the season with thanks to Sergio Aguero’s magic on the final day in 2011-12 and then Liverpool’s collapse in the closing weeks of 2013-14.

Pep, don’t lost the faith. It can be done.

However, if City lose to Tottenham next weekend and Chelsea extend their lead over Pep’s boys to 13 points by beating Hull City, it is curtains.

Such is the dominance of the big boys this season, City pretty much have to go unbeaten for the rest of the season to have a shot at winning the PL. Given their recent defensive displays that seems unlikely.

We all know Pep is an idealist when it comes to how he wants his team to play but now we are seeing he is a realist too.

Conte urges players “money is not everything” amid Costa rumors

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 04: Antonio Conte, Manager of Chelsea reacts during the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea at White Hart Lane on January 4, 2017 in London, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Julian Finney/Getty Images
2 Comments

While new reports are suggesting that China will have to curb its massive spending, Antonio Conte has urged his players that they don’t have to be tempted by the Chinese Super League.

[ MORE: United, Liverpool finish level after late Ibrahimovic equalizer ]

Chelsea currently sits atop the Premier League — seven points clear of Tottenham and Liverpool — but the club has recently been at the center of controversy as star striker Diego Costa has been linked with a move away from the club.

[ MORE: CSL set to limit number of foreign players per team ]

Costa missed his side’s 3-0 win over Leicester City on Saturday after several outlets reported a rift between the Spaniard and Conte.

The Chelsea manager told reporters following the match that Costa wasn’t available due to a back injury he suffered in training, but there has been continued speculation that the 28-year-old could head to China.

Conte has made it clear to his squad though that the quality of competition in England supersedes the money offered abroad.

“The money is not everything,” Conte told reporters. “When you play for a great team like Chelsea, you must be pleased.

“I think we are a great club and it is a great honour to play for Chelsea. For this reason I don’t see [China] as a threat for my players.

The Blues have lost a number of high-profile players over recent seasons to the high spending of Chinese football, including Brazilian duo Oscar and Ramires, as well as John Obi Mikel.

Oscar departed Chelsea this month to join Shanghai SIPG for a reported $72 million.

“I have to look at the past,” Conte said. “Oscar played with us, had a good offer from China and he went.

“But this league is really competitive and every player wants to come and play in this league.

“This league is the first in the world because of a lot of positive things, so I don’t think these offers from China are a threat for our league.”

Report: Ian Harkes expected to sign with DC United

@MacStLouis
Twitter/ @MacStLouis
Leave a comment

D.C. United didn’t have a top 10 selection in the MLS SuperDraft, but the club is likely to end up with one of the most talented collegiate players in the game.

[ MORE: Robinson, Ebobisse headline latest U.S. U-20 roster ]

According to the Washington Post, D.C. United is expected to sign Wake Forest attacker Ian Harkes to a multi-year contract.

[ MORE: Galaxy keeper Rowe replaces Frei with USMNT ]

Harkes, 21, came up through D.C.’s academy system before playing all four years for the Demon Deacons. The midfielder has gained significant notoriety over his college career, which concluded with Hermann Trophy honors following his senior senior.

As a former member of the D.C. academy, Harkes didn’t have to declare for the SuperDraft and is expected to sign a Homegrown contract with D.C. United in the coming days.

Harkes has also been considering his options abroad, which included second-division sides in England, where he was born. Ian is the son of former U.S. Men’s National Team star John Harkes, who played both in the United States and England over his professional career.

Bayern Munich signs Suele and Rudy from Hoffenheim

MILAN, ITALY - NOVEMBER 15:  Sebastian Rudy of Germany controls the ball during the International Friendly Match between Italy and Germany at Giuseppe Meazza Stadium on November 15, 2016 in Milan, .  (Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images)
Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images
Leave a comment

MUNICH (AP) German champion Bayern Munich has signed center half Niklas Suele and central midfielder Sebastian Rudy from Hoffenheim, with both players due to complete the season with their current club before joining on July 1.

[ MORE: Ibrahimovic rescues draw for United against Liverpool ]

Bayern said Sunday on its website that Rudy – who is out of contract in the summer – has signed a three-year deal until 2020 while Suele has agreed a five-year deal until June 2022.

[ MORE: Morata to Chelsea? Dybala staying put? ]

“Signing two Germany internationals is an investment in FC Bayern’s future,” Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said. “Sebastian Rudy joins us on a free transfer. In the case of Niklas Suele we have reached a fair and serious agreement with Hoffenheim.”

The 26-year-old Rudy has played 177 league games for Hoffenheim since joining from Stuttgart in 2010, while the 21-year-old Suele is a homegrown talent and has made 90 league appearances with the club.

“In terms of it being a farewell I feel a little wistful,” Suele said on Bayern’s website, adding that the move gives him the chance of “maturing further with one of the best teams in the world.”

Suele’s signing appears to be linked to the form of long-serving Bayern defender Holger Badstuber, who has been sent on loan to Schalke to get more game time.

The long-serving center-back has struggled with injuries in recent years and is not in Bayern coach Carlo Ancelotti’s plans, having played only three games this season, starting just once.