London, May 9 (IANS) Chelsea bested Middlesbrough 3-0 to move within three points of clinching their second English Premier League (EPL) title in three years, while consigning the visitors to relegation.
Following Monday’s win, Chelsea have 84 points from 35 matches and are seven points ahead of second-placed Tottenham Hotspur and can win the league on Friday with an away victory over West Bromwich Albion, reports Efe.
First-half goals from Diego Costa and Marcos Alonso and a 65th-minute strike from Nemanja Matic gave Chelsea a convincing victory over Middlesbrough.
The gulf in class and quality between the two teams was very much evident as the hosts stamped their authority for the full 90 minutes.
Chelsea threatened Middlesbrough from the kick-off and Alonso could have scored within the first few minutes as his powerful drive from the left saw the reach the cross-bar after a touch from goalkeeper Brad Guzan.
Spanish midfielder Cesc Fabregas was in sublime form and his superb passing range meant that Chelsea created plenty of chances. Eden Hazard too came close twice to make it 1-0 but both of shots went out of the mark.
Fabregas played a diagonal pass behind the away team’s defence in the 23rd minute and Costa received it before slotting through the legs of the goalkeeper for his 20th goal of the season.
Alonso doubled Chelsea’s lead in the 34th minute with a major assist from Cesar Azpilicueta, who curled the ball in from right to the left and the latter employed another thunderous drive that breached Guzan from a very tight angle.
With a 2-0 handsome advantage, a ruthless Chelsea pushed forward and dominated the play after the change of ends. Pedro tested Guzan again and the ball hit the cross-bar.
But Chelsea were rewarded for their intensity and they made it 3-0 in the 65th minute when Fabregas crossed for Matic, who then blasted the ball in from 20 yards out.
Later, Gary Cahill, Victor Moses and Willian too had their chances as Chelsea pdocued a dominating performance to be on the verge of glory.
“It was a big win at this stage of the season. It’s great. Now we need to do another step. We are very close and we must be honest about this, but we need to do another little step and win another game. We have the possibility to do this on Friday against West Brom, but for sure it won’t be easy,” Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte, as reported by the capital club’s website.
“I must be honest, and I must be pleased for the performance, the commitment, the desire and the will of my players on the pitch. It’s great to score three goals, to create many chances and also to keep another clean sheet.”