Chelsea too hot for Southampton
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 left-footed 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 long-range 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-year-old 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.
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 now-customary 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.