Chelsea too hot for Southamp­ton

Jamaica Gleaner - - SPORTS -

SOUTHAMP­TON, Eng­land (AP): CHELSEA’S PRO­LIFIC dou­ble act of Eden Hazard and Diego Costa scored in a 2-0 win at Southamp­ton in the Premier League yes­ter­day, earn­ing the team a fourth straight win to keep in touch with their ti­tle ri­vals.

Hazard put Chelsea ahead in the sixth minute when he cut in from the by-line and shot left­footed through Southamp­ton goal­keeper Fraser Forster’s legs.

Costa added a sec­ond by curl­ing in a su­perb strike from 25 me­tres in the 55th, a rare lon­grange strike from a penalty-box preda­tor.

Hazard (five) and Costa (a league-lead­ing eight) are scor­ing the goals that are fuelling Chelsea’s ti­tle chal­lenge un­der new coach Antonio Conte.

It’s now 12 points from a pos­si­ble 12 – and four straight clean sheets – since Conte switched to a three-man de­fence, the Ital­ian’s favoured de­fen­sive sys­tem that worked so well for him with Ju­ven­tus in Italy.

Af­ter 10 games, Chelsea are

one point be­hind Manchester City, Arse­nal and Liver­pool, which all scored four goals in

vic­to­ries on Satur­day.

Hazard was a me­nace to a Southamp­ton team man­aged by

Claude Puel, the coach who gave the winger his break in foot­ball. Puel handed a 16-yearold

Hazard his pro­fes­sional de­but at French club Lille in 2007 and so will have recog­nised the won­der­ful tech­nique and close con­trol that led to his third goal in as many games.

SHOT BURIED

Af­ter run­ning off mid­fielder Steven Davis, Hazard col­lected Vic­tor Moses’ pass, cut in­side and buried a low shot that was too hard for Forster to re­act to.

Costa was de­nied by Forster’s feet in a one-on-one chance late in the first half, dur­ing which Southamp­ton had more of the pos­ses­sion, but didn’t re­ally threaten.

The Spain striker got his now­cus­tom­ary goal, pick­ing up a short pass from Hazard and dart­ing in­side be­fore find­ing the cor­ner.

Southamp­ton was picked off time and again on counter-at­tacks led by the roam­ing Hazard.

Conte will be just as happy with Chelsea’s solid de­fen­sive show­ing with­out vet­er­ans John Terry and Branislav Ivanovic, who had to set­tle for spots on the bench.

Chelsea are the only vis­it­ing team to win at St Mary’s Sta­dium this sea­son, hav­ing also done so in Fe­bru­ary.

Chelsea’s Diego Costa (fore­ground) cel­e­brates scor­ing his side’s sec­ond goal against Southamp­ton dur­ing their English Premier League match at St Mary’s Sta­dium in Southamp­ton, Eng­land, yes­ter­day. Chelsea won 2-0.

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