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14 April 2018

Southampton 2-3 Chelsea: Olivier Giroud keeps champions' top-four hopes alive

Oliver Giroud, Man of the match
Oliver Giroud, Man of the match
Olivier Giroud came off the bench to score twice as Chelsea came from two goals down to beat struggling Southampton 3-2 and keep alive their hopes of Champions League qualification.

The home team went ahead thanks to Dusan Tadic's fourth Premier League goal of the season (21), before Jan Bednarek volleyed home a second on his top-flight debut (60).

However, the champions responded in style by scoring twice in less than five minutes, the first a stooping header by substitute Giroud (70), before Eden Hazard's composed finish brought them level (75).
Then with 12 minutes to go Giroud completed the comeback with a low drive to inflict a fourth defeat in a row on the struggling Saints.
As a result, Southampton remain in the relegation zone, while Antonio Conte's team, after their first two-goal comeback since 2002, moved to within seven points of both Tottenham and Liverpool - who play later today - in the race for the top four.

Giroud, only just off the bench, headed in Marcos Alonso's inch-perfect cross from the left, before Hazard kept his cool to trap Willian's cut back and drill the Blues level as Southampton heads dropped.

And the France international then sealed a quite remarkable turnaround by firing through a posse of Saints defenders to keep Chelsea's Champions League hopes alive. 

The forward, who joined Chelsea from Arsenal in January, entered the contest on the south coast just past the hour-mark, and it took him next to no time to turn the encounter on its head.

His first was a trademark bullet header, before the Frenchman won the points for the Blues with a low drive into the corner of the net, his 19th Premier League goal as a sub.

And that means the 31-year-old is now just five behind Jermain Defoe's record for most goals off the bench.

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