Chelsea see off Saints to go seven points clear

Chelsea 4 Southampton 2

Diego Costa scored twice as Chelsea got the win they needed to move seven points clear of the top of the Premier League.

Eden Hazard gave them an early lead at Stamford Bridge, where Gary Cahill put them back in front just before half-time after Oriol Romeu had scored against his former club.

Costa struck eight minutes into the second half when he held off another ex-Chelsea man, Ryan Bertrand, to head in Cesc Fabregas’ right-wing cross.

And Costa started and finished a lovely one-touch move which culminated in his second goal of the night.

He exchanged passes with Hazard and then Pedro before firing past keeper Fraser Forster.

Bertrand scored a consolation goal for the visitors in the final seconds, but Chelsea were resounding winners.

Costa’s goals were his first in eight matches, taking his league tally for Chelsea past the 50 mark.

More importantly, they sealed a victory that extended their advantage over second-placed Tottenham, who play Crystal Palace on Wednesday.

Antonio Conte’s side made the perfect start, opening the scoring after just five minutes.

Costa drifted out to the right to collect Fabregas’ ball forward and then teed up Hazard, who fired low into the far corner of the net.

Fabregas and Costa combined again to give Hazard a great opportunity to double the lead on 18 minutes, but this time he sliced his shot well wide after being set up by Costa’s sublime first-time touch into the Belgian’s path.

Six minutes later, the Saints equalised against the run of play.

In trying to head a corner clear, Cesar Azpilicueta succeeded only in flicking the ball towards Manolo Gabbiadini at the far post.

After the Italian striker’s close-range shot from a tight angle was blocked by keeper Thibaut Courtois, Romeu had the simple task of tucking away the rebound.

But Chelsea hit back when N’Golo Kante lofted the ball into the box and Marcos Alonso headed towards Cahill, who nodded home.

And when Fabregas combined with Hazard and found Costa, the Spain striker finished emphatically.

Forster temporarily prevented a fourth Chelsea goal by producing saves to deny Hazard and Kante before Costa’s 89th-minute strike.

Chelsea’s attacking play was again outstanding but defensive lapses were evident again, including when Bertrand got in front of Cahill to head in Cedric Soares’cross.

Chelsea: Courtois; Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Cahill; Moses (Terry 86), Kante, Matic, Alonso; Fabregas (Pedro 76), Costa, Hazard (Willian 90).
Subs not used: Begovic, Ake, Chalobah, Willian, Batshuayi.