In Review

Chelsea beat Southampton to regain control of title race

Two goals from Diego Costa guide the Blues past Saints and open up a seven-point gap over chasing Spurs

Chelsea 4 Southampton 2

Chelsea took control of the title race on Tuesday evening with a comfortable win over Southampton. The victory restores their seven-point advantage over Tottenham who travel to Crystal Palace this evening knowing that anything other than three points will be a serious setback in their pursuit of their London rivals.

"We've put pressure on Spurs," said Eden Hazard, who scored the first of Chelsea's goals after just five minutes. Oriol Romeu levelled for the Saints midway through the first half but a Gary Cahill header restored the Blues advantage on the stroke of half-time and Diego Costa scored twice after the interval to wrap up the victory, a result that not even a stoppage time goal from Ryan Bertrand could tarnish.

"It does feel like a massive step," said Cahill. "It's the first time for a long time we've played first [before Tottenham in the league] and this result leaves us in a good position."

Spurs visit Palace on the back of a seven match Premier League winning streak, but their comprehensive defeat to Chelsea in Saturday's FA Cup semi-final (their first loss in any competition since a Europa League defeat to Genk in mid-February) will be a test of their character against an Eagles side that are also enjoying a spell of good form in the league, having lost just once in their last eight matches, and claimed the notable scalps of Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool.

Chelsea's 2-1 loss at home to Palace was followed a fortnight later by their defeat to Manchester United, two results that reopened the title race and led some to wonder whether the Blues were feeling the pressure. But the manner in which they dispatched Tottenham on Saturday, and now Southampton, suggests that Antonio Conte has steadied the ship.

"We passed a big step - a big psychological step - after the defeat against Manchester United," said the Italian. "We lost three points, then we had to prepare a semi-final against Tottenham, then another tough game here. Mentally we have had a really important test. Our answer was very good. We must be pleased."

And Conte was particularly pleased for Costa who, prior to the Southampton match, had gone seven games without a goal. "It's normal for the strikers that it is important to score, the goals are their life," said Conte of the Spanish striker whose brace against the Saints took him to 50 Premier League goals. "But I've always said I've been pleased with his commitment. He has always worked for the team... now he must continue. He's very important for us, his confidence is very important for us."

Recommended

All at sixes and sevens: a mad day in Premier League history
Liverpool goalkeeper Adrian bumps fists with Aston Villa hat-trick hero Ollie Watkins
In Depth

All at sixes and sevens: a mad day in Premier League history

Sport shorts: Sturgeon slams Rangers fans over title celebrations
Rangers fans gathered in George Square in Glasgow to celebrate the title win
In Brief

Sport shorts: Sturgeon slams Rangers fans over title celebrations

Sport shorts: Klopp’s unwanted record as Liverpool lose again at Anfield
Mason Mount scored Chelsea’s winner against Liverpool at Anfield (Phil Noble/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)
In Brief

Sport shorts: Klopp’s unwanted record as Liverpool lose again at Anfield

Sport shorts: foreign spectators ‘could be barred’ from Olympics
Tokyo Olympic Games
In Brief

Sport shorts: foreign spectators ‘could be barred’ from Olympics

Popular articles

Best TV crime dramas to watch in 2021
James Nesbitt stars in Bloodlands
In Depth

Best TV crime dramas to watch in 2021

Quiz of The Week: 27 February - 5 March
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle during a visit to Northern Ireland in 2019
Quizzes and puzzles

Quiz of The Week: 27 February - 5 March

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 6 March 2021
10 Downing Street
Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 6 March 2021