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West Bromwich Albion
West Ham United
30 March 2013
• St. Mary's Stadium, Southampton, Hampshire
Referee: J. Moss
• Attendance: 31779
J. Rodriguez 23'
R. Lambert 35'
J. Terry 33'
Anyway, that'll be all from me, Sam Wells. Thanks for following today's action with me, be sure to follow any post-match reaction on Goal.com. Thanks again and, until next time, farewell.
Chelsea, meanwhile, will undoubtedly be displeased with their contribution to today's proceedings; aside from Terry's goal and Moses' second-half strike, they barely had an attempt on goal, while also finding the task of containing Southampton's attack nigh-on impossible at times. Benitez clearly showed what his priorities were with his selection today as the fringe players were found wanting with an abject display. If the Blues fail to progress in their cup fixtures over the next couple of games, the manager could find himself under a serious amount of pressure.
An excellent performance from Southampton as they thoroughly deserved their win; the Saints were rarely troubled in the second half as the whole team continued to impress, in spite of Ramires and Hazard's arrival. Rodriguez and Clyne, in particular, were outstanding and helped Southampton earn an unexpected result that could well be vital come the end of the season.
90' + 4'
After Benayoun gives away another cheap foul, the referee calls an end to proceedings, signalling an excellent result for Southampton and, frankly, an abysmal performance from the Blues.
90' + 3'
This game looks likely to peter out as Southampton win a free kick in the Chelsea half with Ramires fouling Ward-Prowse, a decision that ignites the ire of the Brazilian midfielder.
90' + 1'
After Ramires is fouled once again, Hazard floats in a dangerous ball and, despite the ball seemingly coming off a Saints head, a goal kick is given and the home side have the ball.
Rodriguez, a real standout performer today, clips the ball over Terry before running at the Chelsea defence once more. Ivanovic is there though and the danger is averted, just as four minutes injury time are called by the fourth official.
Ramires does excellently to shimmy his way past a few challenges before being brought down by Schneiderlin. They, perplexingly, play the free kick short and the chance comes to nothing.
Lampard's effort flies harmlessly over the bar as the shot dips too late to cause any trouble to Davis in the Southampton goal.
Yellow CardMorgan Schneiderlin
Hazard, Chelsea's one bright spark since coming on, runs at the Southampton defence before being brought down by Schneiderlin. Lampard prepares to take the free kick; it's a dangerous position.
Hazard attempts to find Benayoun with a clipped ball over the top but the pass is too long and it runs out for a goal kick. It's difficult to envisage a late comeback from the Blues here.
Moses really has a fairly torrid time out there today; after a long-winded Chelsea build-up finds the winger out on the right, his first attempt at a cross is blocked before his efforts to regain the ball go to waste as he is, once again, crowded out.
Yellow CardRickie Lambert
Chelsea are piling on the pressure now as after Azpilicueta feeds a ball into the area, there is pandemonium in the Southampton box as the ball gets caught up under Lampard's feet. The Saints eventually manage to clear but Chelsea come right back at them.
Moses disappoints once more as, after being fed by Lampard down the left, he fails to get the better out of Clyne once more.
In spite of their substitutions, and aside from that run from Hazard, Chelsea have offered very little in this second period, looking devoid of any real ideas pertaining to how they can break down a stout Southampton defence.
Hazard does incredibly well to burst into the Southampton area, honestly neglecting to go down under a challenge from Hooiveld, before firing a cross-shot across goal. No-one is there to convert but that was lovely from the Belgian.
Yellow CardFernando Torres
As Torres is booked, perhaps slightly harshly, for a hefty challenge on Yoshida, Benayoun comes on for Oscar - a substitution that doesn't seem to go down too well with the travelling Chelsea support.
Hazard perhaps should have done better there as the Belgian received the ball in the area from an Azpilicueta cross; his first touch was unusually poor as the ball rebounded off his knee and into the arms of Davis in the Southampton goal.
John Obi Mikel
Another one of Chelsea's big guns comes on as Ramires replaces Mikel, presumably with the intention of injecting a bit of bite and drive into the Blues midfield.
After Chelsea commit a lot of men forward, Southampton almost manage to capitalise with a swift counter! Schneiderlin burst forward after the Blues were dispossessed before feeding Ward-Prowse; the youngster's cross is aimed at Rodriguez at the back post but it is just cleared in time by Ivanovic. Could they live to regret that?
Moses finds himself trying to do too much in the Southampton area once again. Torres does really well to feed the Nigerian but the winger takes too long in the area and eventually gets crowded out.
Chelsea have a penalty shout turned down! Moses does well to burst into the Southampton area and Yoshida nudges him off the ball. The Nigerian goes down but the referee deems it unworthy of a penalty - probably the correct decision.
Southampton have another opportunity! Rodriguez causes the sluggish backline even more problems as he surges down the left before striking well with his left foot. Cech does enough to palm the effort away before Davis is blocked off astutely by Terry.
Chelsea have a corner of their own and Moses chooses to play it short to Oscar. The Brazilian whips a dangerous ball to the back post but there's no-one there to convert the opportunity.
Davis whips in a corner to the near post and Hooiveld gets there first but can only head harmlessly over the bar.
Pochettino appears to have brought Davis over to the left to attempt to nullify the potent threat of Hazard. An interesting tactical manoeuvre from the Saints boss; let's see if it pays off.
The Saints respond by making a change of their own as Jason Puncheon, impressive today, is replaced by the youngster James Ward-Prowse.
After Southampton respond by blazing an effort well over the bar, courtesy of Rodriguez, Chelsea finally replace the disappointing Marin, bringing on Eden Hazard.
The away side are beginning to apply pressure onto the Southampton back four as Davis produces a good save to deny Moses. Torres plays a quick free kick into Azpilicueta down the right, whose cutback is scuffed goalwards by the Nigerian. The ball threatens to bobble over Davis but the keeper just manages to turn the shot over the bar.
Chelsea have a throw-in deep in the Southampton half as Yoshida deals with a long ball forward adeptly, clearing well despite being under pressure from Torres.
Clyne continues to cause Chelsea problems down the right wing as the right-back bursts past Bertrand before his cross manages to elude Cech in the Blues' goal. The ball in also manages to avoid any incoming Southampton attackers though and the opportunity goes begging.
The Blues are showing a little bit more now as Marin finally gets involved in the game; the diminutive winger received the ball on the left wing and cut inside, attempting to find the far corner with a curling effort. Clyne stood strong at right-back though, blocking the strike adeptly.
Davis makes his first save of the afternoon, albeit an unnecessary one as Lampard, who shot at the substitute goalkeeper's feet, was ruled offside.
Moses is fed by Lampard down the right wing and the Nigerian runs at Shaw. The young left-back is more than equal to the task however and puts the ball behind for a corner.
Marin, in a pass that encapsulates his performance thus far, attempts a crossfield ball to Moses but is found wanting as the German underhits it, meaning that Shaw can intercept with consummate ease.
Chelsea have an opportunity to create an opening down the left as Bertrand gets free down the left. The cross is, frankly, appalling though and danger is averted. The Blues have to be more incisive than that if they are to get back into this game.
Clyne, foraying forward once again down the right, whips an effort goalwards but Cech is more than equal to his strike at the near post, tipping behind with a fair amount of ease for a corner.
The Saints almost work an opening just minutes into the second half as Schneiderlin's cross is almost turned goalwards by Lambert, only for the ball to get caught up under his feet. Encouraging signs once more for the home side.
And we're underway in the second half, with Southampton having made an unexpected change as Kelvin Davis replaces Boruc in the Saints goal - presumably the Polishman picked up an injury in the first half.
We're minutes away from the restart here and both teams are back out on the pitch; let's see if the away side overturn the one goal deficit over the course of the second half - they'll need to show much more than they did in the first half to do so.
Chelsea, meanwhile, will undoubtedly be unhappy with their first-half showing; they showed nothing going forward and can consider themselves lucky to have even scored - Terry's header was practically their only opportunity. They have also looked susceptible at the back and have struggled to shack Lambert and Rodriguez when the Saints come forward. Some changes are surely needed as, at the moment, Benitez's selection has not been justified in any way, shape or form.
Southampton will be delighted with that first-half display; they caused Chelsea a lot of problems going forward and nullified any semblance of a threat that the away side managed to pose. The only disappointing aspect of a sterling display will be the soft goal conceded; Pochettino will be unhappy with the ease with which Terry dispatched his header. Still, an excellent opening 45 minutes from the home time and they will be hoping for more of the same after the interval.
45' + 2'
And the referee calls an end to a lively first half here at St. Marys, bringing an end to a thoroughly enjoyable first period.
45' + 1'
Hooiveld attempts to go long, searching out Rodriguez down the left. The ball is just too long though and it's a Chelsea goal kick, with the half looking set to peter out.
With the Saints continuing to hold the ball in the opposition half, two minutes added time are called by the fourth official.
Chelsea continue in their struggle to manufacture any chances as Moses is crowded out down the right by Shaw and Hooiveld. The Blues win a throw-in but Oscar is out strengthened and Southampton come forward once more, with Clyne eventually winning another corner down the right.
Azpilicueta goes down after a fairly strong challenge from Rodriguez; the Spaniard gets back up eventually though.
The game has calmed down a bit since that hectic few minutes, probably as both sides would prefer - Southampton don't want to concede any more soft goals while Chelsea need to take a step back and get a grip on themselves, they've shown next to nothing thus far.
Every pass is eliciting a cheer from the Southampton support as they enjoy a Barcelona-esque spell of possession, ending as Lambert is caught just offside. Chelsea really are being put to task out there.
The Saints continue to push as a Rodriguez cross is claimed by Cech. Can Chelsea find another response? It's looking unlikely at the moment with Southampton very much in the ascendancy.
Chelsea go right up the other end and forge yet another opportunity. Unfortunately for the away team, it falls to Mikel and the Nigerian blazes well over from the edge of the area.
GOAL! Southampton instantly peg Chelsea back with an absolutely majestic free kick from Rickie Lambert! The striker curls the ball up and over the Blues wall and into the top corner. An excellent free kick and the away side find themselves behind once more!
GOAL! Oscar whips in the ensuing corner and Terry finds himself free after Hooiveld, who was meant to be marking the centre-back, slips at the wrong time. The Chelsea captain thunders a header past the helpless Boruc and the Blues are level!
Moses gets the ball down the right after a lovely crossfield ball from Terry. The winger crosses the ball in but his cross is deflected behind by Shaw for a corner.
The Blues are struggling to forge any opportunities here; Ivanovic lumps a hopeful ball forward which Moses duly chases. Boruc comes across and lets the ball run for a goal kick, Chelsea need some invention from somewhere.
Bertrand is fouled by Davis in the Chelsea, prompting Lampard to find Torres with a searching quick free kick. The Spaniard gets on the end of it but is too wide and the move eventually comes to nothing.
Chelsea have at least shown some kind of response since the goal as Bertrand wins a corner down the left. Oscar swings the ball in but it is cleared by Schneiderlin.
Torres puts the ball into the net but, alas, the referee rules it out, correctly calling the Spaniard up for a handball. No instant response from the Blues then.
GOAL! Southampton go ahead with a lovely goal from Jay Rodriguez! The home side get what they deserve after a flowing move, started down the left by Shaw. The left-back plays into Lambert, who moves the ball into Rodriguez. The forward plays a smart one-two with David and finds himself through on goal, where he duly tucks the ball past Cech into far corner. An excellent goal and well-deserved, 1-0 to the Saints!
The Blues almost manage to work an opening as Bertrand gets forward down the left. He does well to play inside to Oscar but the return pass is too strong and the chance comes to nothing.
The Saints' stranglehold over possession continues as they stroke the ball back and forth across their back four; the away side need to find a way to get the likes of Oscar and Moses into the game.
That's pretty woeful from Azpilicueta; after receiving the ball back from Oscar, he completely miscues his left-footed clearance, shanking it out for a Southampton throw-in. That almost sums up the away side's performance thus far.
The corner comes to nothing as Davis overhits the cross. Southampton immediately regain possession though; Chelsea have yet to feature in this game really.
Southampton's pressure continues as they have yet another corner, earned through the perseverance of Lambert as the frontman's cross is deflected behind by Terry.
Southampton have another corner after excellent work down the right from Clyne, with Bertrand blocking his eventual cross. Davis whps in the corner, which is eventually cleared by Terry.
Chelsea have a great opportunity to counter but the attack is swiftly brought to an end by virtue of a poor touch from Victor Moses, the Nigerian falling over the ball after being fed the ball by Torres.
The Saints are dominating now and getting into some excellent positions. Clyne gets free in the penalty area down the right; his cross is blocked by Bertrand but Lambert is following up, though his shot is also blocked, being deflected behind for a corner.
The Saints continue to have the enjoy the best of the opening ten minutes as Puncheon is oh-so-close to worming his way past the Chelsea defence. He overdoes it though and the ball runs through to Cech.
Rodriguez goes on a winding run, bursting past the helpless John Terry before forcing Bertrand and Azpilicueta further and further back. He checks onto his right but can only shoot tamely into Cech's arms. An excellent run but a disappointing finish.
Puncheon almost manages to forge an opening for the Saints but his cross just about eludes both Lambert and Rodriguez. You sense that a chance is imminent.
Chelsea are enjoying their own spell of possession, albeit in their own half. They almost manage to work an opening though, again through the winger Victor Moses. He bursts down the right before checking back and putting Oscar in a crossing position, whose cross is deflected behind for a corner.
Chelsea have their first chance to cause the Saints problem as Moses receives the ball free on the right wing. He overhits the cross badly though and the opportunity goes begging. Disappointing from the Nigerian.
Lambert attempts to put Rodriguez through after some nice interplay in the Saints midfield. Nothing doing though as Bertrand intercepts, playing back to Cech who duly clears.
Southampton continue to retain possession fairly comfortably as Chelsea have yet to really assert themselves on this game.
First opportunity of the game and it's vintage Southampton. A long-ball is knocked up to Lambert who smartly knocks down to the incoming Rodriguez; the forward strikes goalwards but his shot is wayward and the half chance comes to nothing.
And we're underway here at St. Marys! Chelsea cede possession almost immediately, giving the Saints a chance to stroke the ball around early doors here.
The Blues and the Saints, led by John Terry and Rickie Lambert respectively, are out on the pitch now as we're minutes away from kick-off here.
Rafa Benitez, meanwhile, has made changes aplenty ahead of their fixture pile-up as Gary Cahill, David Luiz, Ashley Cole, Ramires, Juan Mata, Eden Hazard and Demba Ba are all omitted from the side that beat West Ham 2-0 two weeks ago, with Branislav Ivanovic, John Terry, Ryan Bertrand, John Obi Mikel, Oscar, Marko Marin and Fernando Torres coming in as their replacements.
Mauricio Pochettino has made just two changes from the side that claimed a shock 3-1 win at Liverpool, with Steven Davis and Jason Puncheon coming in for Gaston Ramirez and the injured Adam Lallana.
Chelsea: Cech; Azpilicueta, Ivanovic, Terry, Bertrand; Mikel, Lampard; Moses, Oscar, Marin; Torres Subs: Turnbull, Cole, David Luiz, Ramires, Hazard, Benayoun, Ba
Southampton: Boruc; Clyne, Hooiveld, Yoshida, Shaw; Rodriguez, Schneiderlin, Cork, S.Davis, Puncheon; Lambert Subs: K.Davis, Fonte, Fox, Forren, Ramirez, Ward-Prowse, Guly
And here come the team line-ups...
This is set up to be an enthralling encounter as both sides still have much to play for in the Premier League; Southampton sit just four points clear of the relegation zone, while Chelsea sit in third, just a point above Tottenham and four behind Manchester City. However, the away side also have a congested fixture list to contend with, meaning they are likely to name a heavily rotated squad here – this is their first of four games within the next week, including an FA Cup tie with Manchester United on Monday. It'll be interesting to see whether the Blues can overcome this hectic run-in, starting with a win against the Saints here. Only time will tell!
Good afternoon and welcome to Goal.com's live coverage of today's Premier League clash between Southampton and Chelsea, I'm Sam Wells and I'll be guiding you through today's proceedings.
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