Defiant Timo Werner strikes decisive blow and must hope goal marks turning point in Chelsea career

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·4-min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
 (Chelsea FC via Getty Images)
(Chelsea FC via Getty Images)

Not even VAR could deny Timo Werner the moment he so richly deserved on a day when modern technology had a major say on the outcome at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea ended their two-game losing streak to move to the top of the table with a 3-1 win against Southampton.

Werner’s goal after 84 minutes was the decisive strike – and his first in the Premier League since April 24. It was rich reward for his positivity and bravery in a week when his future at the club has been called into serious question.

The fact that he was there, in the middle of the six-yard box, to convert Cesar Azpilicueta’s cross said everything about his refusal to let his head drop on a day when he must have wondered if his Chelsea career was cursed.

Ineffective in last weekend’s defeat to Manchester City and unused against Juventus on Wednesday, Thomas Tuchel picked him from the start in a much-changed line-up.

He was the most dangerous of Chelsea’s forwards – including Romelu Lukaku, who was under-serviced yet again. And when Werner rose to head in Callum Hudson-Odoi’s first half cross to seemingly double Chelsea’s lead, it felt like a potential turning point for the German.

 (Chelsea FC via Getty Images)
(Chelsea FC via Getty Images)

He celebrated like a man who felt the weight of the world fall off his shoulders – but when VAR began a review of the goal, he must have feared the worst.

Video assistant Mike Dean could not make a decision, so referee Martin Atkinson was invited to consult the pitchside monitor.

No goal. Azpilicueta was deemed to have fouled Kyle Walker-Peters in the build-up. But Werner did not allow that controversial moment to sink him.

He remained the Chelsea player who asked most questions of a Southampton side that looked like taking at least a point when James Ward-Prowse converted a second half penalty.

There was an assuredness that has been missing for much of his time in England – a refusal to give up.

Alex McCarthy had already denied him the chance to restore Chelsea’s lead when he darted towards goal and turned home Azpilicueta’s cross to kill off Southampton’s resolve as they tried to see out the result with 10 men following Ward-Prowse’s red card.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

That was the second major intervention by VAR – again inviting Atkinson to take a second look at a contentious incident after 77 minutes. Ward-Prowse had slid into the back of substitute Jorginho on the edge of the Chelsea box - Atksinson had deemed it a bookable offence, but Dean thought otherwise.

Again the referee went to the pitch-side monitor and again he altered his decision, this time issuing a red that looked like the right call.

Victory was a major relief for Tuchel, who had gone into the game with the first uncomfortable questions of his Chelsea reign following back-to-back defeats.

A third straight loss ahead of the international break would have prompted a serious inquest between now and Chelsea’s next game against Brentford in a fortnight’s time.

Tuchel responded to the disappointment of Wednesday night in Turin by making five changes to the team beaten 1-0 by Juve.

That included Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s first start league start for Chelsea since September last year. Trevoh Chalobah was given his third start league start of the season and repaid his manager’s faith with the opening goal after nine minutes. Loftus-Cheek was involved too – flicking on a corner for Chalobah to head in at the far post.

It was the perfect start after a difficult week and it looked like being a comfortable afternoon when Werner struck a second before VAR’s intervention.

The home crowd were livid as the sides headed down the tunnel – and the significance of that disallowed goal became clearer when former Chelsea starlet Tino Livramento came back to haunt them. His dash into the box prompted a desperate lunge from Ben Chilwell – and Atkinson immediately pointed to the spot. Up stepped Ward-Prowse to send Edouard Mendy the wrong way and spark fevered celebrations from the visiting fans.

This was a major test of a Chelsea side that has stuttered in recent games. And if it had remained XI v XI it might have been a sterner examination of their resolve.

But Ward-Prowse’s red changed the course of the match. Just seven minutes after his dismissal, Werner struck.

To Chelsea’s credit they went in search of more and that duly came in the last minute. Both Lukaku and Azpilicueta hit the woodwork from close range during a goalmouth scramble before Chilwell’s volley was pushed out by McCarthy.

There was still time for technology to have a final say – only this time goal-line technology judging Chilwell’s effort to have crossed the line.

On another day the rights and wrongs of modern tech might well have stolen the show. It is credit to Werner that he ensured the occasion was all his.

Read More

Tuchel explains why he made five changes for Southampton clash

Chelsea 3-1 Southampton: Werner and Chilwell sink ten-man Saints

Werner destined for Chelsea exit unless he can hit it off with Lukaku

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting