Chelsea have forced Fraser Forster into several good saves, including long-range sighters from Bakayoko, Cahill, and Kanté as well as a turnaround snap-shot from Alonso, but the big man in the Southampton goal has been up to the task. And when he wasn’t, Pedro’s opportunistic effort found only the base of the post.
But then Hazard won a free kick in the dying minutes of the half, and free kick god Marcos Alonso curled one around the wall and just inside the near post, with Forster slow to get across. That’s the scouting report well read on the goalkeeper then. In fairness, he was probably expecting the other free kick god, Willian to take it, given the positioning of the ball on the outside of his right-hand post, but like the David Luiz effort versus Liverpool last year, Willian was serving only as perfect disguise.
Look how far away this is! (That’s the man himself, Jake Cohen behind the camera.)
Marcos Alonso has been the best offensive-minded defender since joining the Premier League. Here’s just the latest example of what he adds to the Chelsea squad. ⚽️ pic.twitter.com/CEgII8YN4S— Jake Cohen (@JakeFCohen) December 16, 2017
And so Chelsea, essentially unchanged from Tuesday (Cahill in for Rüdiger at the back) are up one at the half and largely controlled proceedings — though not making as good a use of width as on Tuesday. Southampton have been restricted to a few counters, though early on some sloppy passing and turnovers (including, shockingly, from Kanté) did create a couple dangerous situations, including one where Cahill was barely able to sort his feet out in time.
Having scored at the best time, Chelsea just need to keep up the effort in the second half.
COME ON, CHELSEA!