It was only after Giroud's introduction in the 61st minute that Chelsea took charge, as the France worldwide scored twice either side of an emphatic Eden Hazard finish to wrap up an unlikely victory and leave Southampton languishing in the bottom three.
"But we have had the right spirit to come back and win this game". The first half was very negative. Southampton are 18th on 28 points in the league table.
The France international's Chelsea career has been largely frustrating since he joined from Arsenal in January as he has struggled with injuries and had to be satisfied with substitute appearances for the most part, but Conte says Giroud is now in good shape and he is happy with his striking options. "As has been the case all year, apparently we've got a soft underbelly", he said.
We're not convinced. Players have fallen out with Conte in the past and subsequently been frozen out, a la David Luiz.
"It's a really poor challenge", he insisted.
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Olivier Giroud scored twice, his first league goals for Chelsea, either side of an Eden Hazard strike just when it looked like Antonio Conte's visitors lacked the fight against opponents who scrapped for every tackle at St Mary's. It's very disappointing that the officials didn't see it.
The victory kept the Reds in third, 10 points ahead off Chelsea, rounding off a fine week for after they also booked a Champions League semi-final against Roma by beating Manchester City 5-1 on aggregate with a second-leg win on Tuesday.
And with Southampton reeling, Giroud completed Chelsea's comeback when he pounced on a loose ball inside the area to drive into the bottom corner. It could have had bad consequences for Shane. Thankfully he is okay, he just got a rake down the calf. I have been through difficulties in my career, other times I tried to come back stronger.
"You've got to get the big decisions right". You can lose, draw or win, but in your mind and heart you must know you have given everything for this team, for this colour for our fans.
"As long as mathematically it's possible, we will believe".