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.
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.
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)