Olivier Giroud made his biggest statement yet in a Chelsea shirt after coming off the bench to inspire an eight-minute turnaround from 2-0 down to win 3-2 at Southampton on Saturday with his first Premier League goals for the club.
The defeat is wrecking body blow to the Saints’ chances of avoiding relegation as they remain rooted in the bottom three, while the Blues revive their dimming Champions League hopes.
Both sides will meet again in the FA Cup semifinals next weekend, a tie that may hold extra importance for the Saints with their place in the Premier League next season looking ever more precarious.
Southampton had got off to a perfect start thanks to a former Chelsea player as Ryan Bertrand burst past Cesar Azpilicueta before squaring for Dusan Tadic to apply a simple finish.
Chelsea’s frustration boiled over as tempers flared late in the first period when Marcos Alonso was lucky to escape unpunished for raking his studs down Shane Long’s calf.
Jan Bednarek marked his Premier League debut in style on the hour mark when he half-volleyed expertly across the goal and into the far corner from Ward-Prowse’s free-kick.
Antonio Conte swiftly responded by throwing on Pedro Rodriguez and Giroud for the disappointing Alvaro Morata and Davide Zappacosta.
And Giroud responded with a brave near post header from Alonso’s pinpoint cross to get Chelsea back in the game and spark an incredible fightback 20 minutes from time.
Eden Hazard levelled five minutes later by smashing home Willian’s cross from close range, before Giroud completed Chelsea’s comeback when he reacted quickly to drive a loose ball in the area into the bottom corner.