Chelsea cruises to New Year's victory over Southampton
SOUTHAMPTON, England (AP) - Fernando Torres helped Chelsea to a 3-0 victory over Southampton on Wednesday as the Blues kept pace with their title rivals in the Premier League.
The Spain striker broke the deadlock on the hour mark at St Mary's, heading home a deflected cross from close range. Chelsea's substitutes then combined to deliver the second, with Oscar cutting in from the left to set up Willian for a powerful shot from the edge of the area in the 71st minute.
Oscar put the result beyond doubt with a clinical finish in the 82nd minute after Eden Hazard and Ramires linked up to put the Brazilian through.
Chelsea remains third in the standings, a point behind Manchester City and two adrift of league leader Arsenal after the top three sides all won on Wednesday.
Chelsea has not been firing on all cylinders since Jose Mourinho returned to Stamford Bridge, yet the ruthless edge that epitomized his first spell continues to shine through. There were few chances of note in the opening 45 minutes, with last-ditch blocks and wayward finishing keeping the score goalless. Southampton wasted decent chances during a penalty-box melee in the early minutes of the second half - missed opportunities which the team was left to rue as Chelsea took control of the game.
Having just been booked, Southampton's Gaston Ramirez swung in a corner that triggered the melee in which Dejan Lovren and Jose Fonte had attempts blocked, with the latter unsuccessfully claiming handball.
Referee Martin Atkinson was soon called into action, though. Put through on goal by Hazard, Oscar was adjudged to have taken a tumble when looking to round goalkeeper Kelvin Davis. The Chelsea man was booed but quickly made amends, sending in the cross from which Chelsea took the lead.
?The playmaker's ball took a deflection off Calum Chambers, hitting the post, and the unmarked Torres reacted quickest to bundle home the rebound. It was the first away league goal by a Chelsea striker since the Spaniard netted on December 8, 2012, against Sunderland.
Southampton pressed for an equalizer and substitute Rickie Lambert headed straight at Petr Cech.
Chelsea were on top, though, and Oscar, impressing since his 53rd-minute introduction, squared a pass to countryman and fellow substitute Willian, who fired a low strike into the bottom right-hand corner to make it 2-0.
Saints were left chasing shadows for the remainder of the game and it was no surprise when Oscar completed the scoring with eight minutes remaining.
A quick break saw Hazard play through the Brazilian, who fired past Davis at his near post to wrap up a comprehensive victory and secure Chelsea's fourth win in five matches.
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