Bottom Southampton stun Chelsea at Stamford Bridge
James Ward-Prowse trademark free kick earned basement club Southampton a precious three points at Chelsea in a scrappy 1-0 Premier League win on Saturday and piled more pressure on home coach Graham Potter.
Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta brought down Stuart Armstrong just outside the area in the 45th minute and Ward-Prowse curled a free kick over the wall into the right-hand side of the net with goalkeeper Kepa left sprawling.
Azpilicueta needed nearly 10 minutes of treatment on the pitch in the second half after he received a kick to the head in a goalmouth clash. Physios from both clubs rushed to his aid and the Spaniard was eventually carried off on a stretcher.
Ward-Prowse said scoring and winning was an “amazing feeling”.
“The game was obviously overshadowed a bit by the injury to Cesar and we wish our best to him. We hope he is okay.”
Chelsea, who have scored only four goals in 10 games in all competitions since the start of the year, looked livelier in the second half when Raheem Sterling and Kai Havertz came on and they kept the Southampton defence under pressure.
Gavin Bazunu was busy in goal and in the dying seconds of added time produced a fingertip save from substitute Conor Gallagher.
Despite spending nearly 300 million pounds ($361.05 million) in the January transfer window, the Blues still could not score against the south-coast team who lie three points below the safety zone and are led by caretaker coach Ruben Selles after Nathan Jones was sacked a week ago.
“It has been a tough season for us,” Ward-Prowse told the BBC. “We have lacked a bit of consistency in all aspects of our game. Ruben has come in this week and been fantastic. He has steadied the ship and calmed everyone down.”
Chelsea are languishing in 10th place on 31 points from 23 games and are 10 points adrift of the top four.
Their Champions League knockout phase started this season with a 1-0 defeat at Dortmund on Wednesday, when, with a largely different starting line-up, they again buzzed around the opponents’ goal without finding the decisive shot.
Southampton have now done the double over Chelsea this season after beating them 2-1 in August, a month before Potter took over from the sacked Thomas Tuchel.