TEN-MAN Saints were left to suffer red card agony as Chelsea surged to a 3-1 victory with the extra body at Stamford Bridge.

After James Ward-Prowse had levelled from the penalty spot just past the hour mark to cancel out Trevoh Chalobah’s opener, the Saints skipper was given his marching orders for a foul on Jorginho following a VAR check.

That allowed Timo Werner and Ben Chilwell to net for the European Champions in the latter stages, ensuring Saints’ wait for a Premier League victory this season went on.

Saints made two changes from the side that suffered a 1-0 defeat to Wolves in the Premier League at St Mary’s last time out, with Theo Walcott and Nathan Tella coming into the visitors’ starting XI.

That meant Mohamed Elyounoussi and Che Adams dropped to the bench, where Stuart Armstrong made his return after a lengthy calf injury.

On-loan Armando Broja was ineligible to feature against his parent club.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek made his first Premier League start since September 2020, as home boss Thomas Tuchel made five changes in total.

The Blues sought to hit back from successive 1-0 defeats, to Manchester City and Juventus.

And it was the home side who almost broke the deadlock after just five minutes. After neatly working the ball out to skipper Cesar Azpilicueta, the defender’s precise through ball found the run of Werner.

Formerly a player under Ralph Hasenhuttl at RB Leipzig, the German international worked Saints keeper Alex McCarthy, who was forced to save with his feet at the near post.

But the Saints stopper could do nothing to prevent Chelsea taking the lead after nine minutes.

A corner flicked on by Loftus-Cheek found the run of centre-back Chalobah, who was left unmarked to stoop in with his head at the back post.

Chelsea could have had another just three minutes later. Azpilicueta again got forward down the right and delivered for Romelu Lukaku.

The £97.5million summer signing was put off enough by Jan Bednarek and saw his first chance go begging.

Saints then looked to respond and almost had their leveller on 21 minutes. Walker-Peters, still operating at left-back, cut inside to find the returning Walcott.

He laid the ball off for Ward-Prowse, who fired just wide of the post with a rasping, low drive.

McCarthy then had to be alert in denying the European champions a second goal. A classy give-and-go between Chilwell and Mateo Kovacic allowed the England full-back to send a stinging strike the Saints stopper thwarted.

Hasenhuttl’s men still carried a threat. Walker-Peters surged into the box and delivered a dangerous ball in for Walcott – only for the former England man to head wide.

The hosts then thought they had a second shortly before the break. After Werner headed in from Callum Hudson-Odoi’s cross, referee Martin Atkinson was asked to look at a foul by Azpilicueta on Walker-Peters in the build-up by VAR Mike Dean.

And having consulted the pitchside monitor, the man-in-the-middle ruled out the effort and booked home boss Tuchel for his protests.

Saints replaced Walcott with Ibrahima Diallo at the interval, with Oriol Romeu dropping into a back three.

And the visitors got their leveller on 61 minutes, as former Blues youngster Livramento came back to haunt his former employers.

Driving at Chilwell, the teenage full-back was hacked down inside the box, with referee Atkinson pointing to the spot.

Ward-Prowse sent keeper Mendy the wrong way to make it 1-1.

It was then more impressive work at the other end from McCarthy which then kept the game level 18 minutes from time.

Werner ran on to Lukaku’s backheel and looked destined to find the net, only to be denied by a superb reaction stop from the Saints keeper.

Drama then ensued as VAR got involved to Saints’ detriment on 77 minutes. Ward-Prowse slid in late on substitute Jorginho, with referee Atkinson originally brandishing a yellow card.

But, again, after looking at the monitor following VAR Dean’s referral, the Saints captain was given his marching orders.

And with just six minutes left, Chelsea got in front. Azpilicueta’s devilish ball from the right found the run of Werner, who had the ball on a plate to tuck in his side’s second.

Chilwell then got in on the act late on. After Lukaku hit the post from close range, the full-back’s volleyed effort was judged over the line despite a save from McCarthy.

Saints: McCarthy, Livramento, Bednarek, Salisu, Walker-Peters, Romeu, Ward-Prowse, Redmond (Elyounoussi, 87), Walcott (Diallo, h-t), Tella (Djenepo, 74), A Armstrong.

Unused subs: Lyanco, Perraud, S Armstrong, Adams, Long, Forster (g/k).

Booked: Romeu, Salisu, Djenepo.

Sent off: Ward-Prowse.

Chelsea: Mendy, Azpilicueta, Thiago Silva, Rudiger, Chilwell, Hudson-Odoi (Mount, 65), Loftus-Cheek (Barkley, 83), Chalobah, Kovacic (Jorginho, 74), Lukaku, Werner.

Unused subs: Alonso, Christensen, Saul, Ziyech, Havertz, Arrizabalaga (g/k).

Booked: Thiago Silva, Tuchel.

Referee: Martin Atkinson.

VAR: Mike Dean.