Oscar came off the bench to play a part in all three Chelsea goals as the Blues romped to a 3-0 win away to Southampton on New Year’s Day.
The Brazilian was also booked for diving shortly after replacing Juan Mata in the 53rd minute, but by the hour-mark he had an assist as Fernando Torres opened the scoring at St. Mary’s, and he would also have a hand in Willian’s insurance marker before finding the back of the net, himself, with eight minutes left on the clock.
Chelsea, presently third in the Premier League table, started well on the south coast, and within three minutes the hosts had been forced to block a pair of Torres shots.
But Southampton, enjoying a good portion of possession, didn’t take long to come into the contest, and Adam Lallana produced the side’s first meaningful opportunity in the 17th minute when his effort was blocked after a neat exchange with Gaston Ramirez.
Dejan Lovren was the next Southampton player to come close to scoring, although his shot—again set up by Ramirez—went wide of target following a free-kick.
With 10 minutes remaining in the opening period, Chelsea midfielder Ramires’ blast from outside the 18-yard box was saved by goalkeeper Kelvin Davis.
In the end, it was a pair of substitutions made shortly after the restart by Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho that made the difference on this day—Oscar replacing Mata and Willian coming on for Andre Schurrle.
Just seven minutes after the changes, the Blues were in front after Torres pounced on a rebound after Oscar’s cross came back off the woodwork and landed in front of the Spaniard.
Eleven minutes after that, the lead was doubled when Willian, benefiting from an exquisite Oscar pass after the Brazilian had shimmied through a pair of Southampton defenders, beat Davis to the near post from distance, and in the 82nd minute Oscar rounded out the scoring after running on to Eden Hazard’s pass and slipping the ball into the back of the net.
Key Player Grades
Eden Hazard: A
He was Chelsea’s most consistent attacker over the course of the match and picked up an assist on Oscar’s goal late in the second half. In his 85 minutes on the pitch, he touched the ball 63 times and successfully executed five dribbles. (Statistics courtesy WhoScored.com.)
His dive shortly after coming on in the second half was the only black mark on an otherwise stellar performance. In just 37 minutes, he managed 38 touches of the ball, had a hand in the goals of Torres and Willian and made five tackles.
Gaston Ramirez: B-
No Southampton attacker touched the ball more than the Uruguay international on Wednesday, and he pulled the strings on many of his side’s attacking movements. He was a rare bright spot on an otherwise forgettable afternoon for the Saints.
|Southampton Player Grades|
|Chelsea Player Grades|
Next up for Southampton is an FA Cup encounter at home to Burnley on Saturday, and they’ll host West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League on January 11. Chelsea are away to Derby in the FA Cup on Sunday and will visit Hull on the 11th.