SOUTHAMPTON, England (Reuters) - Chelsea closed in on the Premier League’s top four as striker Tammy Abraham scored his eighth league goal of the season to help them secure a 4-1 win at struggling Southampton on Sunday on the back of an excellent first-half performance.
Mason Mount, N’Golo Kante and Michy Batshuayi were also on target as Chelsea moved into fifth place on 14 points from eight games, behind fourth-placed Leicester on goal difference. Southampton stayed 16th on seven points, one point above the relegation zone.
Abraham, the league’s joint top scorer alongside Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero, fired Chelsea ahead in the 17th minute as he latched on to a clever pass from Callum Hudson-Odoi and looped his shot over advancing keeper Angus Gunn.
The ball crossed the line before Southampton defender Maya Yoshida, also beaten to the ball by the pacy Abraham, tried in vain to keep it out with a desperate clearance.
Abraham credited his team mates and manager Frank Lampard for his dazzling run of form that won him a call-up to Gareth Southgate’s England squad for their Euro 2020 qualifiers against the Czech Republic and Bulgaria.
“It’s been fantastic, I give it to my team mates and my manager - everyone who has been behind me,” the 22-year-old striker told Sky Sports.
“When you play with great players you get your chances. It was an important first goal for us, Southampton started brightly. At 2-0 they scored and we did well to stop their momentum.”
Mount doubled Chelsea’s lead in the 24th minute when he blasted his shot past Gunn from eight metres before Danny Ings pulled one back for the Saints, poking the ball in from close range after Yann Valery’s darting run.
More slack defending from the home side allowed Chelsea to restore their two-goal advantage shortly before halftime, when Kante’s fierce shot from outside the penalty area took a deflection off Pierre Hojbjerg.
The pace dropped in the second half as Chelsea packed their midfield before late substitute Batshuayi, who came on for Abraham, put the icing on the cake for the visitors with a clinical 89th-minute finish.
Although he was happy with the result, Lampard warned his players to keep their feet on the ground.
“Let’s not get carried away, it’s a long season and we feel we might have picked up more points than we’ve actually got,” the former Chelsea and England midfielder told the BBC.
“We’ve not been at our absolute best and we can be a lot better. We shouldn’t be sloppy, at 2-0 we should go 3-0. We’re scoring goals, great, but can we tighten up? Yes.”
Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic; Editing by Toby Davis