Timo Werner fired Chelsea to the top of the Premier League as the German’s late goal inspired a controversy-filled 3-1 win against 10-man Southampton on Saturday.
Thomas Tuchel’s side ended a frustrating week on a high note thanks to Werner’s contribution to a dramatic finale at Stamford Bridge.
After successive 1-0 defeats against Manchester City and Juventus, the Blues were in danger of another disappointing result with just minutes remaining in rain-soaked west London.
Trevoh Chalobah’s early opener for Chelsea had been cancelled out by a James Ward-Prowse penalty in the second half.
But Ward-Prowse was sent off for an ugly lunge on Jorginho and Chelsea took full advantage as Werner restored their lead with six minutes left before Ben Chilwell wrapped up the points.
Chelsea sit two points clear of second-placed Liverpool, with Jurgen Klopp’s side able to regain pole position if they beat champions Manchester City on Sunday.
Failure to defeat a Southampton side still seeking their first league win this season would have raised serious questions about the European champions.
So it was a huge relief for Tuchel to get back on track heading into the international break as Chelsea put one of their rare blips of the German’s reign behind them.
After two defeats we had to be careful that we didn’t start being too sad or too worried, Tuchel said.
It was important to have a better performance than the last two games, that we sharpened our mindset so that we are not afraid to lose.
It was nice to play the way we did and get a deserved win.
Frustrated by what he labelled a strange display against Juventus on Wednesday and an equally lacklustre loss to City last weekend, Tuchel made five changes in a bid to shake up his tired team.