Premier League

Southampton 1 Chelsea 2: Ivanovic seals points in dramatic late turnaround

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Goals from Cesc Fabregas and Branislav Ivanovic in the final 15 minutes of the game helped Chelseacomplete an impressive turnaround victory away at Southampton in the Premier League this afternoon.

The Blues trailed to Shane Long‘s first-half opener on the South Coast, but they battled back valiantly to secure a 2-1 triumph at St Mary’s Stadium - the first time they have overturned a deficit to win a league game all season.

Southampton’s push for a top-five finish takes a big blow as a result of the defeat, while Chelsea - now with just the one loss in 15 since Guus Hiddink took charge - are within one point of the top half.

The visitors were forced into making the top flight’s earliest substitution of the season when Pedro limped off to be replaced by Oscar seven minutes in, but there was a bigger setback to come later in the half.

A tame opening 45 minutes only sparked into life midway through thanks to a string of openings for both sides - full debutant Charlie Austin firing narrowly wide with arguably the best of the chances.

Diego Costa could only pick out the stands when afforded some rare space to get away a shot of his own, but the Blues’ only on-target shot of the half came courtesy of substitute Oscar on the half-hour mark.

It was the simplest of stops for Fraser Forster down the middle, ensuring that he reached a club record 667 minutes without conceding a goal.

The half’s big moment arrived just moments before the interval, however, as Long - who had earlier headed over from close range - capitalised on Baba Rahman‘s poor defensive header to race clean through on goal.

Thibaut Courtois was quick off the mark to close down the Irishman, but the Southampton forward kept his composure to delicately dink the ball into the far corner of the net for his first back-to-back goals in two years.

That slack play from Rahman at the back would prove to be his last act of the contest, as Brazilian youngster Kenedy was introduced at the break by Hiddink.

Chelsea had ominously yet to recover from a goal down in the Premier League to win a game this term, and that did not initially appear likely to change as they offered a weak response to their setback in the early stages of the second half.

A laboured showing from the Blues’ front players, which remained unchanged from the 5-1 thrashing of Manchester City last time out, allowed the Saints to remain largely in control of things as the contest progressed.

There was however a chance for Jon Obi Mikel, who has enjoyed a purple patch of sorts since Hiddink took charge, to nod his side level on 51 minutes, only for his header from seven yards out to end over the bar.

Eden Hazard and Fabregas were also wide of the mark when picked out in decent positions, but there was a glorious chance for Costa to make it eight goals in his last nine league outings soon after.

The Spaniard was picked up by Hazard six yards from goal, yet his side-footed volley was wide of the mark to sum-up what had been a frustrating showing from the visitors up to that point.

Southampton were forced into a change of their own in the final quarter of the match as goalscorer Long hobbled off through injury, and with that their fortunes also seemed the shift.

After 708 minutes without shipping a single goal, Forster finally saw his impressive run come to an end as a Fabregas shot-cross went straight through without a touch from teammate Hazard.

The 2014-15 PFA Player of the Year did enough to distract Forster, who in the end was beaten in a rather innocuous manner just moments after seeing his side’s shouts for a penalty turned down.

Gary Cahill brought down Austin inside the box, while also appearing to handle the ball, but referee Martin Atkinson was happy enough with the challenge and waved play on.

Chelsea’s equaliser finally sparked the West London outfit into life, and in the closing stages there only looked likely to be one winner as the Blues pressed high up the pitch.

With one minute of normal time left to play skipper Ivanovic proved the hero, as he outjumped Virgil van Dijkto head Chelsea into a lead that they would not surrender in the remaining seconds.

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