Interim Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink hailed “courageous” Branislav Ivanovic after he scored the winning goal in a 2-1 win against Southampton at the St. Mary’s Stadium.
The Blues came from a goal down to claim all three points courtesy of goals from Cesc Fabregas and Ivanovic, after Saints striker Shane Long put the home side in the lead.
The win sees Chelsea climb up to 11th in the Premier League, closing in on the top half of the table.
Interim boss Hiddink believes that it was a “deserved win” for his side, who beat a Southampton team that had won five of their last six games.
Speaking after the match, Hiddink said: “I think it was a deserved win for us. They haven’t conceded in last six, seven games so it was successful for us.
“We had a setback when we went 1-0 down, it was a present from our defence, but we did very well in the second half. We were well organised and then got the goals.”
After Baba Rahman’s error led directly to the opening goal for Southampton, Hiddink confirmed that was the reason he substituted the player at half-time.
“I don’t want to make a fake injury,” said the Dutchman. “I took him off because of the error. He has to cope with that. He was very down in the locker room about his mistake, but we have to make decisions like we did.”
Hiddink hailed the “courageous” match winner Ivanovic, who was captaining the side due to the absence of captain John Terry through injury.
Hiddink said: “Branislav is a very good header, he jumps well and is courageous. Then his execution is perfect. I hope that John is close to returning but we have a lot of games remaining. I don’t want to take a big risk on his fitness.”
Southampton manager Ronald Koeman insisted that his team “didn’t have domination” in the match as he saw his side concede two late goals in the defeat.
Speaking after the match, Koeman said: “Chelsea’s equaliser was not a shot – it was a cross. Then 2-1 came from a set-piece – normally we defend these situations well. Ivanovic was stronger than one of our defenders.
“We had lead before half-time, which is always good, we defended well and they didn’t create a lot.
“But I think the problem in the second half was we didn’t have domination and went back too much, letting them have more ball possession.”