Match Report: Demba Ba makes his mark for Chelsea as Southampton are crushed
Southampton 1 Chelsea 5: New striker settles in at the double as
Torres keeps a watching brief from the stands
The contrast is startling: while Fernando
Torres took 14 games to score his first goal in Chelsea colours, Demba Ba
managed it within 35 minutes of his debut. The Spaniard was forced to watch and
admire from the bench as the former Newcastle man, who's arrival inevitably
brings Torres' accustomed starting place into question, scored twice in an
assured first display.
It could so easily have been a hat-trick as the FA Cup holders began their defence of the trophy with another goalfest as Southampton's initial stiff resistance ebbed away. The home side took a surprise lead but it only energised Chelsea into a vigorous response that was rewarded with an emphatic victory, their eighth in the last ten games.
In the end they settled for a five-goal haul with Frank Lampard coming off the bench to drive home a late penalty which put him level with Kerry Dixon on 193 goals and in second place in Chelsea's all-time goalscoring list. Bobby Tambling is now just nine goals ahead while another Lampard landmark saw him join the legendary striker's record mark of 25 FA Cup goals for the club.
Chelsea made five changes from the team that had surrended tamely in midweek against QPR with Ba's arrival granting Torres a respite after his recent heavy workload. This was Rafa Benitez declaring his intention to use his big guns in a competition his club have won four times in the last six seasons as Juan Mata and Eden Hazard both returned.
Even before his goals, Ba's runs and ability to get away from his marker suggested the alliance could prove a fruitful one for the London side. Victor Moses guided a pass a fraction ahead of the new man as Chelsea began to exert pressure, confident they could deal with all that the home team could conjure in attack.
That confidence was shredded in the 22nd minute when Southampton struck with a surprisingly straightforward counter. Jason Puncheon's exquisite pass found Gary Cahill lax in his marking duties and Jay Rodriguez exploited the room afforded him as he clipped the ball beyond the advancing Ross Turnbull.
If the breakthrough was unexpected it was enthusiastically received by the home support though they would have predicted the angry response from their opponents. Hazard bent a shot a fraction the wrong side of the far post and he was influential in the construction of the equaliser as he picked out Mata who coolly sidestepped the covering defender. The ball was heading for the net and as Ba and Steven Davis converged on the line it was the £7.5million man who applied the final touch.
Two alarming moments for Boruc when he failed to gather worthy but hardly difficult efforts did nothing to lessen the sense that Chelsea were now well in charge. The first half was all but up when Ashley Cole set up Moses with a neat cut-back and the winger nailed it with a sweet half-volley.
The second period proved a much more routine affair with Chelsea opening up Southampton at will and Turnbull distinguishing himself with a brilliant double save. The game was over as a contest in the 51st minute when Mata's cross provided Branislav Ivanovic with a simple header and with the home team's resistance now waning alarmingly Ba helped himself to a second, his dash to the near post nicely complemented by Hazard's low pass. The finish was emphatic.
"It is always important for a striker to score goals but Ba's movement and understanding of the team was really impressive as well," said Benitez. "It is important for the team to have different options in attack and Ba gives us that."
With seven minutes left Lampard tried to scoop the ball forward and Davis was penalised for hands. Inevitably Lampard converted to embellish his place in the Chelsea record books. But he was more than happy for Ba to hog the headlines.
Southampton (4-2-3-1): Boruc; Cork, Yoshida, Fonte (Hooiveld, 64), Shaw; S Davis, Schneiderlin De Ridder, 55); Puncheon (Lee, 76), Ward-Prowse, Guly; Rodriguez.
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Turnbull; Azpilicueta, Cahill, Ivanovic (Lampard, 65), Cole; Ramires, Luiz; Mata (Oscar, 79), Hazard, Moses (Marin, 73); Ba.
Referee: Mike Dean.
Man of the match: Mata (Chelsea)
Match rating: 6/10
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