First, Southampton took the points. And then they rubbed salt in Chelsea’s wounds by taking the mickey too.
As their players basked in the adulation in a well-deserved lap of honor at full-time and a jubilant Ralph Hasenhuttl pumped up the crowd, they did so as ABBA’s Money Money Money pumped through the stadium speakers.
It wouldn’t have been just a happy coincidence.
This was Southampton, who were not afraid to poke fun at themselves, as they did after Bournemouth’s 9-0 drubbing at Liverpool by referencing their two defeats against Leicester and Manchester United by same scoreline, shamelessly enjoying their moment, beating the Premier League’s big spenders. and prolonging the stop-start, frustrating start to the new season for Thomas Tuchel and his team.
Adam Armstrong’s late first-half effort gave Southampton a rare victory over Chelsea at St Mary’s on Tuesday evening.
The better part of £200m worth of signings have already been confirmed by Chelsea and more will follow before Thursday’s deadline. This was a timely reminder of their need for even more quality.
One of the only positives they can take away is that they still have almost 48 hours to add what they can, wherever they can.
After an exciting first half and with all the possession in the second, when they really needed it, up front, they didn’t know how to take advantage of the opportunities to make it count.
Their defending and resilience, however, was an even bigger concern for Tuchel after captain Cesar Azpilicueta gifted Southampton their first goal and then the hosts went past Chelsea and were left with too much space for the second .
Romeo Lavia put in another assured display in the middle of the park for Saints, capping off his performance with the equaliser.
“Both goals are cheap goals and shouldn’t happen,” Tuchel said. “They shouldn’t happen if you expect to win a Premier League game in the evening at an away stadium.”
Southampton have spent by their recent standards, although only around a quarter of Chelsea’s spending so far, underscoring the disparity between the two clubs.
There are times when Southampton’s faith in youth will seem like a huge gamble. And there are times when it will seem like a master stroke of a philosophy. This was the last one.
His youthful, relentless and fearless energy made Chelsea difficult to stifle at times and hard to find a way through or off the shoulders of others.
The goalscorer for their gifted teenage midfielder Romeo Lavia encapsulated that, putting in another mature performance with his first senior goal before succumbing to an injury which Ralph Hasenhuttl fears could keep him out for a while
Chelsea struggled to live with Southampton’s intense run and lost control of the game after Saints equalised
Meanwhile, young French-born German centre-back Armel Bella-Kotchap was Southampton’s standout player in defence, but far from the only one.
Both prospects arrived in the summer as part of Southampton’s youth recruitment drive as they look to develop promising talent.
It wasn’t hard to see why Lavia and Bella-Kotchap fit the direction Southampton are heading.
Hasenhuttl said: “I’ve said it from day one that we feel like we have a young team but there’s a lot of empty space on the hard drive and they can learn.
“We’ve won once away at Chelsea since I’ve been here, that was four years ago, but not at home for a while and it was time to get something.”
Armstrong caused four Chelsea back problems throughout and Thomas Tuchel’s side struggled on the night
The opener was a sign of things to come, especially from Southampton.
It was a high-energy outing on a St Mary’s pitch that had been ravaged by an illness that would normally have been cured but for the heat.
But, as the game began to settle down, the visitors began to have their own moments of excitement.
Raheem Sterling fired straight at Gavin Bazunu after being passed by Mason Mount, Mohammed Salisu produced two key interventions before Bella-Kotchap produced a plaudits-winning expert piece that belied his 20 years.
With Sterling racing towards him supported by teammates to his left, Bella-Kotchap lingered and lingered, refusing to commit and decide, before producing a perfectly timed interception to dispossess. This was, however, only a temporary reprieve for Southampton.
Raheem Sterling gave Chelsea a deserved lead but then lost control of the game on a difficult night at Southampton.
Seconds later Chelsea went ahead again, Kai Havertz and Mount combining to find Sterling who turned and fired home the second attempt.
But Chelsea gave Southampton a route back into the game and it wasn’t a great sequence of events for recalled captain Azpilicueta.
First, he needlessly conceded a corner with a poor back pass and then compounded it by passing the resulting corner straight to Lavia, who buried the ball past Mendy to become the first player born in 2004 to score in the Premier League.
Questions could be raised about Edouard Mendy for Southampton’s equalizer after he got a palm on Lavia’s effort.
The way the young Belgian positioned himself before hitting the ball so forcefully you wouldn’t know it was his first ever goal.
Just as two minutes of added time in the first half were announced, Adam Armstrong opened his account for the season.
It was a patient move from Southampton that finished when Ibrahima Diallo and James Ward-Prowse worked the ball away from Perraud.
As Chelsea’s defenders all rushed back to protect their goal, a composed Armstrong held his ground to receive the cut-back, took one touch to control and a second to fire the ball into the top corner.
Despite needing an equaliser, Southampton were the more likely scorers after the break, going close to Mohamed Elyounoussi before Salisu saw his header cleared off the line by Thiago Silva.
Not having scored a third, although Southampton spent the closing stages largely defending.
But Bella-Kotchap, Salisu and Co enjoyed it and held on before the roof came off St Mary’s at full-time.
After a difficult summer in which questions were raised about Ralph Hasenhuttl, his team has enjoyed a strong start to the season
Armel Bella-Kotchap produced an impressive display of defensive assurance to keep out Chelsea’s attacking talent.
Bella-Kotchap congratulates teammate Romeo Lavia after he equalized for Southampton in the opening period
Thomas Tuchel was left scratching his head after his Chelsea side gave up a good start late on.
GAME DATA AND SCORES
SOUTHAMPTON (4-2-3-1): Bazunu 7.5; Walker-Peters 8, Bella-Kotchap 9, Salisu 8, Perraud 8 (Djenepo 73, 6.5); Diallo 7.5, Lavia 8 (Aribo 59, 7); Elyounoussi 7, Ward-Prowse 7.5, A Armstrong 7.5 (Lyanco 86); Adams 7.
Scorers: Lavia 28, Armstrong 45+1
Manager: Ralph Hasenhuttl 8.5
CHELSEA (4-2-2-2): Mendy 6; Azpilicueta 5 (Broja 66, 6), Silva 6.5, Koulibaly 6.5, Cucurella 7; Jorginho 5.5 (Chilwell 67, 6), Loftus-Cheek 6.5 (Kovacic 46, 6); Ziyech 6, Mountain 6; Havertz 6 (Pulisic 66, 6), Sterling 6.5.
Scorer: Sterling 23
Manager: Thomas Tuchel 6
Referee: Michael Oliver 6
Relive Sportsmail’s live blog for the Premier League clash between Southampton and Chelsea below, including updates from Crystal Palace vs Brentford and Fulham vs Brighton.
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