Southampton 2-3 Chelsea: Olivier Giroud brace adds to Saints' relegation woes
By Daniel J. McLaughlin
Southampton just cannot find any luck at the moment. In the words of Blues singer Albert King: "If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all."
The Saints were certainly feeling the blues, courtesy of the Blues whose comeback hammered another nail in their coffin.
Mark Hughes' side were defeated 3-2 by Arsenal in their previous game, and the scoreline continues to torment them after an Olivier Giroud brace added to their relegation woes.
The Saints sit in 18th place, five points adrift of safety with five games to go. They are not condemned to the drop, but they have a mountain to climb if they want to stay in the Premier League. Chelsea, meanwhile, are pursuing a top four place - flanked by their London neighbours with Tottenham in fourth and Arsenal in sixth. The Blues have a difficult task ahead to reach the Champions League spot, seven points behind Tottenham, but another three points in the bag - and Spurs dropping points in a 3-1 loss against runaway leaders Manchester City - will come in handy.
The hosts have struggled to hit the back of the net this season - with their strikers not even reaching double figures yet. Dustin Tadic managed to grab his fourth league goal when he scored from close range in the 21st minute. Ryan Bertrand made a determined run to the edge of the penalty area, holding off Cesar Azpilicueta, before sending it to Tadic who turned it home from 10 yards out.
Marcos Alonso was fortunate to escape a red card after a horrible challenge on Shane Long. The Spaniard was guilty of three things when he made a lung on Long's calf at the end of the first-half: he was high, he was late, and his studs were up. The officials missed it.
Southampton doubled their lead on the hour mark after Jan Bednarek evaded his marker from a James Ward-Prowse free-kick. The searching ball fell between Marcos Alonso and Gary Cahill, and Bednarek put it to bed with a lovely left-footed volley.
For the first time under Mark Hughes, it looked like the Saints were marching towards a league victory. But the visitors did not want to be in that number, launching a stunning comeback by scoring three times in just eight minutes.
Substitute Olivier Giroud made an immediate impact when he was able to fend off two defenders to reach an Alonso cross. The French striker was able to head past goalkeeper Alex McCarthy in the 70th minute. Eden Hazard was on the scoresheet just five minutes later. Willian's cross from the left found the Belgian in space who took one touch before hitting it in the net.
The comeback was completed in the 78th minute when Giroud struck again. An attempted headed clearance found the Frenchman who hit his effort first time through a group of Southampton defenders into the bottom corner.
Southampton continue their relegation battle against Leicester City at the King Power Stadium on Thursday (K.O. 7.45pm). Chelsea will hope to close the gap in the top four race when they take on Burnley away (K.O. 7.45pm). Their game will be available to watch on Sky Sports Premier League/Main Event.