| New Delhi
| May 9, 2017 3:43 am
Chelsea midfielder Pedro (L) and forward Diego Costa celebrate the latter's goal (Photo: AFP)
Chelsea thumped Middlesbrough 3-0 in their English Premier League encounter on Monday night, relegating their opponents and coming within three points of the title in the process.
After second-placed Tottenham Hotspur had been upset by West Ham United on Friday, the Blues knew a win at Stamford Bridge would all but guarantee them their second title in three years.
And despite not having N’Golo Kante in the starting XI, the home side never once looked like they would allow Steve Agnew’s men hope of somehow staving off relegation.
Cesc Fabregas came into the line up in place of the injured Kante and was superb on the night, pulling strings from deep like only he can, accumulating two assists over the course of the 90 minutes.
Diego Costa scored his 20th league goal of the season to open proceedings in the 23rd minute, controlling Fabregas’ lofted ball with ease before cooly finishing between Brad Guzan’s legs.
Marauding full-back Marco Alonso then doubled the hosts’ lead 11 minutes later, finishing well from a tight angle after Cesar Azpilcueta’s lofted through ball had found him in the box. Ironically, the full-back had almost scored an identical goal in the third minute, only for his volley to get a touch from Guzan before bouncing off the crossbar and away.
Antonio Conte’s men were in cruise control, with the away side unable to provide Alvaro Negredo with any sort of service. In fact, had the hosts not been uncharacteristically profligate, they could have scored four or more before the break.
As the second-half began, it became increasingly evident that Middlesbrough were to suffer relegation for the fourth time in their history and Nemanja Matic’s cool finish in the 65th minute put the icing on the cake for the home fans.
Another Fabregas assist, his 11th in a season which has seen him been a bit-part player and while he may well be moving on in the summer, there is no denying that his contributions have been immense in this campaign.
And if the result which all but confirmed the title wasn't enough, Conte sent on club captain John Terry for the final few minutes, evoking an rousing response from the Blues faithful at Stamford Bridge. The long-serving defender, who announced that he will be leaving the club in the summer, couldn't get on the scoresheet but will have a couple of chances to do so with three games left in the season.
Chelsea face a tricky away game at West Bromwich Albion on Friday night, knowing a win will mathematically confirm their league triumph. While the Baggies will not be easy customrers, don’t hold your breath, as this Blues side will go for the win and in all probability, secure the league in style.
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