Puel echoes Mourinho woes after early Chelsea goal

Updated: 

Southampton boss Claude Puel believes the timing of Chelsea's first goal at St Mary's Stadium on Sunday proved pivotal in their 2-0 victory.

Eden Hazard opened the scoring in the sixth minute, firing low between the legs of goalkeeper Fraser Forster to give Antonio Conte's side early control.

Diego Costa added a superb second 10 minutes after half-time to secure Chelsea's fourth Premier League win in a row and move them to within a point of leaders Manchester City.

Jose Mourinho said last week that Manchester United's 4-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge was made possible as Pedro's goal with just 30 seconds on the clock allowed Chelsea to sit deep and play on the counter-attack.

And Puel felt Conte's men were allowed to repeat that performance thanks to Hazard's timely strike, telling BBC Sport: "I think we played very well in the first half with so many possibilities and good play. 

"But it's difficult to play against this team when you concede a goal after a few minutes. They can play their game with a strong defence and counter-attack. 

"We played very well in the first half. In the second we tried, but after the second goal it was difficult - because my players were tired. 

"It was difficult to find solutions, it's a disappointment because we tried to play good football. We can do better."

Midfielder Steven Davis added: "Chelsea were very well organised, it was difficult to play against. 

"We're frustrated because we had a decent amount of possession without breaking them down. They were clinical as well."

Southampton's loss - their first at home this season - denied them the chance to climb into seventh.