Football: Chelsea prove they have what it takes

CHELSEA'S championship credentials were given added credibility by the Southampton manager Dave Jones yesterday, who watched Gianluca Vialli's side win 2-0 at the Dell yesterday lunchtime to go top of the Premiership, at least for a few hours.

"In the vital part of the pitch they were that little bit brighter," Jones said. "They made five or six passes when we were only stringing one or two together."

Tore Andre Flo and Gustavo Poyet scored the crucial goals either side of half-time to sew up the win. Southampton's cause was not helped when they lost their talisman, Matt Le Tissier, with a calf strain midway through the first half and then his replacement Stuart Ripley with a knee injury at half-time.

Jones said: "We battled hard but they have got quality players all over the pitch. I thought Zola's runs today were something special."

While Chelsea are concerened with the title race, in which Jones believes they will have a big say, the Southampton manager now faces a fight to get his team out of the relegation drop-zone. Chelsea's first-team coach Graham Rix, on the other hand, refused to look into the future. He was simply delighted to come away from the Dell with three points.

"It wasn't a particularly attractive game to watch but at these places you have got to come and stand up and be counted and I thought the lads did that today," he said.

The Charlton Athletic manager Alan Curbishley, like Jones facing a battle against the drop, gave his players a roasting after their sixth defeat on the run. "I find it hard to contain my anger," he stormed after a 2-1 defeat against Wimbledon at Selhurst Park. "No one can tell me Wimbledon outplayed us or had more chances. There is no lack of confidence when they come knocking on my door looking for a better contract.

He added: "It's galling, we've now lost six games on the spin and yet in 18 games we have only been well beaten twice. I feel sorry for the 6,000 travelling fans who turned up. You come to Wimbledon expecting to be put under pressure but there were 11, 12 or 13 players who threw away three points for us today. I'm fed up with it."

Match reports, 26-28

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