Chelsea close in on title by crushing Boro

Chelsea 3 Middlesbrough 0

Chelsea are one more win from the title after crushing Middlesbrough in a one-sided game at Stamford Bridge.

Diego Costa, Marcos Alonso and Nemanja Matic scored for the Blues, who moved seven points clear at the top of the Premier League and will be crowned champions if they win at West Brom on Friday.

Boro never threatened an upset and their defeat confirmed their relegation back to the Championship.

Cesc Fabregas played in Costa for Chelsea’s 23rd-minute opener and a ball delivered from a similar position by Cesar Azpilicueta led to Alonso doubling the lead 10 minutes later.

Matic made it three midway through the second half after being set up by Fabregas.

Antonio’s Conte’s team were dominant from the start and went ahead when Fabregas picked out Costa, who placed the ball between keeper Brad Guzan’s legs after Fabio had been unable to stretch far enough to clear.

And when another ball in behind Fabio, this time from Azpilicueta, found Alonso near the far post, the Spanish wide-man’s apparent attempt to hook the ball back towards goal struck the inside of Guzan’s left leg and ricocheted into the net.

A similar ball in from the right from Fabregas had almost led to the Blues taking the lead after only a minute.

Fabregas, playing in place of the injured N’Golo Kante, picked out Alonso, whose shot was blocked by Guzan with the ball then bouncing up on to the bar.

Fabregas then missed a great chance to put Chelsea ahead when he side-footed wide from near the edge of the penalty area after Eden Hazard had pulled the ball back from the left.

When Hazard again delivered a low ball in from the left, Costa, under pressure from George Friend, was just unable to add the finishing touch from a couple of yards out.

But when the classy Fabregas carved open Boro’s defence again, Costa made no mistake.

And Alonso’s goal – his sixth of the season – as good as sealed Chelsea’s victory.

Just as they did at the start of the first half, they almost scored after a minute of the second – this time when Pedro’s 20-yard strike hit the bar.

As the home side continue to dominate, Azpilicueta fired narrowly wide, Alonso’s ball across the face of goal just evaded Costa, Guzan palmed away a powerful shot from Gary Cahill and Fabregas went close with a deflected effort.

When the third goal eventually arrived, Fabregas was again involved – and for the third time the ball squirmed through the legs of Guzan.

Fabregas found space on the right and nudged the ball with the outside of his boot to Matic, who controlled on his chest before finishing through the keeper’s legs.

Chelsea: Courtois; Azpilicueta, David Luiz (Terry 84), Cahill; Moses, Fabregas, Matic, Alonso; Pedro (Chalobah 80), Diego Costa, Hazard (Willian 71).
Subs not used: Begovic, Zouma, Ake, Loftus-Cheek.