Southampton 0-2 Chelsea: Hazard, Costa pull Blues one off the top

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  • Eden Hazard opened the scoring
  • Diego Costa hit for the eighth time this season
  • Chelsea kept its fourth straight clean sheet

Southampton came into Sunday’s matchup at St. Mary’s in good form, but even Claude Puel was powerless to stop the Chelsea machine that is whirring at full tilt.

A first-half poke from Eden Hazard put the Blues up, and an absolute wonder strike from Diego Costa before the hour mark sent Chelsea on its way, just a point off Manchester City at the top of the Premier League table with a 2-0 win over the Saints who saw a six-match unbeaten streak halted.

Chelsea started things off with a bang as Eden Hazard got the ball on a one-two with Victor Moses, and his touch to the left beat Steven Davis. That opened things up for a shot from a tight angle, and it beat Fraser Forster from point blank.

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The Blues, despite the early goal, were slightly on the back foot in the opening 20 minutes. Southampton looked to pump balls into the box for Charlie Austin, but his heading was off target.

The game became a physical midfield battle, but the Blues had one more opportunity before the break to double their lead. Jordy Clasie was dispossessed by Nemanja Matic in the Southampton half, and he fed Diego Costa on the break, but the Spanish international’s shot was blocked off by a charging Fraser Forster.

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Immediately following the break, Chelsea had another massive chance as a cross from Marco Alonso on the break sliced across the penalty area headed for the path of Hazard, but Jose Fonte charge back to cut the cross out at the last possible moment.

The Blues continued to be incisive up front, and Costa’s moment of magic sealed the scoreline. A touch to his right outside the box gave him the space, and a clean strike on the ball sent it curling past a helpless Forster and in for Chelsea’s second.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Cesar Azpilicueta proved dangerous down the right with gobs of defensive work and plenty of incisive passes in the Southampton half. The Blues should have had a third, but a mad scramble in front of Forster’s net on 63 minutes somehow dissolved without a goal as Moses, Costa, and Pedro all fail to smash the chance home.

Southampton had a chance to pull one back with 15 minutes left but a looping header by Davis just caught the top of the crossbar. Charlie Austin put one in the back of the net with five minutes to go, but was correctly flagged for being offside. Ultimately, the hosts failed to score as Chelsea kept its fourth straight clean sheet in league play, a streak of 410 minutes dating back to Mesut Ozil’s final strike in the 3-0 loss to Arsenal in late September.

The win for Chelsea moves them to just a point off the top of the table, below Manchester City, Arsenal, and Liverpool who all sit on 23 points. Southampton, meanwhile, has its six-match unbeaten streak snapped as they sit on 13 points in ninth.

Racist abuse delays England v. Bulgaria qualifier

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England raced out to an impressive 4-0 lead at Bulgaria by halftime, but the wonderful attacking display was marred by horrendous incidents from the crowd.

The match in the Vasil Levski Stadium in Sofia, Bulgaria was stopped on two occasions with announcements being made to ask sections of the crowd to stop their abusive language. This comes with the stadium already serving a partial stadium closure due to racist chanting from the crowd in previous qualifiers.

Below is UEFA’s protocol on how to intervene in these situations, and what transpired from lead writer Joe Prince-Wright.

Tottenham re-signs goalkeeper Vorm

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With Hugo Lloris set to miss at least another two months of action with a broken elbow, Tottenham has turned to a familiar face to provide some cover between the pipes.

Tottenham announced Monday it had re-signed goalkeeper Michel Vorm to a contract through the end of the 2019-2020 Premier League season. Vorm spent five seasons with Tottenham after signing from Swansea City in 2014. However, after playing second-fiddle to Lloris and later serving as the third backup behind current Tottenham No. 2, Paulo Gazzaniga for the past couple of seasons, Vorm was released at the end of last season.

Its certainly a boost for Tottenham that a player with a long history at the club and plenty of experience was available to help in this situation. Similar to Liverpool picking up Adrian after Alisson Becker’s injury, Tottenham know what it’s getting in Vorm and may play him a few times if Gazzaniga needs a night off in the next few months.

According to Vorm, he had been home in his native Netherlands and was watching the game when he saw Lloris get injured.

“Obviously I saw straight away that he had a bad injury and at the time I thought about how bad it was, Vorm told Tottenham’s website. “After the game I spoke with Jan (Vertonghen), he told me what was going on and I spoke also with Toni (Jimenez, our goalkeeping coach) and, yes, during the week I got the phone call to ask if I was open to come back and help out. I’ve kept in contact with a lot of the players and also with Toni. We were speaking quite regularly and on Thursday he called me, we had the conversation and from there on, it went very quickly.”

In his five seasons with Tottenham, Vorm made a total of 47 appearances in all competitions. He saw plenty of time in the League Cup, FA Cup, UEFA Europa League and Champions League during his stay at White Hart Lane.

In-form striker Duvan Zapata injured on international duty

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This international break has been particularly brutal to clubs who have seen a host of key players go down with injuries, and there’s still a few days of matches remaining.

The latest player to succumb to injury is Atalanta striker Duvan Zapata who returned from Colombia duty with an adductor strain and will miss at least three weeks, according to Sky Sports Italia (via FootballItalia). Zapata went down 23 minutes into Colombia’s 0-0 friendly draw with Chile on Friday and was sent back to Italy for tests at his club.

Those tests have reportedly confirmed the initial fears. The loss of Zapata is a massive one for Atalanta, as the 28-year-old has been steadily building for years and is having a breakout start to this campaign, scoring six Serie A goals in seven matches plus one more in Champions League play, currently on a run of four consecutive games with a goal across all competitions. With Zapata’s help, Atalanta sits third in the Serie A table, having bagged the most goals of any team with 18 through seven games.

Zapata becomes the latest high-profile injury from this international break, joining Colombia teammate Alexis Sanchez who went down late in the same match and is reportedly out until 2020 with a serious ankle injury. Chelsea has been hit the hardest, with Andreas Christensen, Mateo Kovacic, and Reese James all pulling up while N’Golo Kante was injured in France warmups but he is expected to be fit for the weekend. Luka Modric may miss time after going down in a Euro qualifier against Wales, while Gareth Bale also picked up a knock in that match. Neymar went down in Brazil’s match against against Nigeria, which forced manager Tite to explain his reasoning for the selection in a friendly. Sergio Aguero is apparently struggling to train with Argentina thanks to a mystery injury confirmed by Lionel Scaloni. Arsenal’s Dani Ceballos withdrew from Spain training earlier in the week with “hamstring overload.” Atlanta United defender Miles Robinson left USMNT camp with a hamstring problem with the MLS playoffs on the horizon.

Ex-England midfielder Gascoigne on trial for sexual assault

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LONDON (AP) — A prosecutor has alleged that former England midfielder Paul Gascoigne sexually assaulted a woman on a train by “forcibly and sloppily” planting an unwanted kiss on her lips.

Prosecutor William Mousley’s comments Monday came as Gascoigne, who has struggled with alcohol and mental-health problems, went on trial at Teesside Crown Court charged with sexual assault of the female passenger.

Mousley said the former England star “put his hands on her cheeks and kissed her forcibly and sloppily on the lips.”

The 52-year-old Gascoigne denies the charge.

The alleged victim has told the court that she froze when the man, who appeared drunk, kissed her in August 2018. She says she did not realize it was Gascoigne until after the alleged incident.