Premier League leaders Chelsea put one hand on the title and sentenced Middlesbrough to relegation as they were rampant in a 3-0 victory at Stamford Bridge on Monday night.
After Tottenham lost to West Ham on Friday evening, Chelsea knew that a win on Monday would leave them just three points away from the title and Antonio Conte’s side came out fast and firing.
Diego Costa latched on to Cesc Fabregas’ delicate cross to put the Blues in front before Marcos Alonso doubled the lead before half-time when his shot squirmed underneath Brad Guzan.
Nemanja Matic added a third after the break after intricate play inside the Middlesbrough penalty area to put the icing on the cake of a solid night’s work for Conte’s men.
Victory over West Brom at the Hawthorns on Friday night would now see Chelsea clinch their fifth Premier League title before Spurs play again, whilst Middlesbrough only have pride to play for now.
Chelsea inch closer to the title…
It was an absolutely emphatic and relentless display by Chelsea on Monday night on how to deal with pressure at the top of the table, and they dismantled their opponents.
Knowing that six points would prove to be enough for their first Premier League title in two seasons, it could have proved to be a blessing or a curse for the Blues – but they were dominant.
Middlesbrough will be leaving fairly happy with the score-line at 3-0 such was Chelsea’s constant onslaught, and 20 shots at goal showed that the hosts had no mercy for Boro’s relegation situation.
Diego Costa was at his physical best after a drop in form over the last few months, whilst Cesc Fabregas and Marcos Alonso ran the show all evening and left Steve Agnew’s men chasing shadows.
A man that wears his heart on his sleeve, Antonio Conte couldn’t help put applaud all four sides of Stamford Bridge as his name rang around the stadium in the 89th minute; he’ll share a smile tonight with his team on the verge but it’s now business time ahead of a potentially title-clinching match on Friday.
…whilst Middlesbrough say goodbye to the top-flight
It was always going to be a tough ask for Middlesbrough to visit Stamford Bridge – a place where they are winless since 1975 – and secure the three points needed to continue their relegation fight.
Too many draws – thirteen in all so far – and too few goals have blighted their return to England’s top-flight this year, and their season came to its almost inevitable end with defeat on Monday night.
Chelsea were expectedly rampant and the visitors had no answer; it’s not that Middlesbrough played poorly, they were just over-run in the final-third and couldn’t cope with the hosts’ quality.
Steve Agnew has done as well as he could have done since taking over from Aitor Karanka, and it is testament to him that Boro were still in with a chance of survival with three matches left to play.
Now the emphasis needs to be on securing a long-term appointment as manager, and ensuring that whoever that may be invests heavily in a goal-scorer this summer for any hope of a quick return.
Fabregas shows that class is permanent
With N’Golo Kante ruled out through a slight knock, Cesc Fabregas was awarded a second Chelsea start in the past five Premier League matches after impressing in recent cameos from off the bench.
Within 90 seconds of kick-off he’d already made an impact, lofting the ball towards Marcos Alonso whose half-volley was tipped onto the crossbar – and this set the tone for another maestro display.
Just minutes later and the Spaniard got it spot on, curving a lovely, dainty ball into the path of Diego Costa to give Chelsea the lead and ensure one hand is now firmly placed on the Premier League title.
It marked his tenth assist in a strong league campaign and wrote him into the history books as the first man to record ten assists in six different seasons, stretching over his Arsenal and Chelsea career.
The 30-year-old wasn’t finished there though, providing another moment of creative magic with the outside of his right boot to give Chelsea a third and ensure the Blues are cantering to a league title.
Featured Image: All rights reserved by Thuy Tran Thanh.