Chelsea moved one step closer to the Premier League title as they condemned Middlesbrough to another season in the Championship. An assured performance saw the Blues see the game out as 3-0 winners thanks to first half goals from Costa and Alonso, as well as Matic’s first Premier League goal this season.
The atmosphere at Stamford Bridge was electric with the home fans in full knowledge that a win today and again at West Brom on Friday would see their team crowned as Premier League champions.
The game got off to a similarly lively start, as Alonso had a lovely volleyed effort ricochet off the crossbar with barely a minute on the clock. Middlesbrough settled into the game soon after but Chelsea were still; and would remain, the dominant force.
Chelsea’s game plan soon became clear with David Luiz and Fabregas playing in multiple diagonal balls into the Middlesbrough box. The delivery of one of these crosses then led to the first goal of the game, Fabregas floated in a beautiful ball to the feet of Diego Costa who calmly slotted the ball through Guzan’s legs. 1-0.
Middlesbrough saw plenty of the ball in the first half and had a few half chances but on the whole struggled to breakthrough Chelsea’s defence whenever they were granted an opportunity.
Their best chance of the half was from a de Roon shot but Cahill managed to get a vital block in.
Chelsea were constantly putting pressure on the Boro goal with Costa especially coming close to extending the scoreline. In the end it was Marcus Alonso who doubled their lead. It was from one Spanish defender to another as Azpilicueta saw his cross scooped in by Alonso at Guzan’s near post for his 6th goal this season.
This was Chelsea’s 8th diagonal ball into the box and by now the Middlesbrough backline should have learned to deal with them better but instead Alonso was given the space necessary to get a shot off and pile yet more misery on the travelling Boro fans.
The second half continued in a similar fashion with Chelsea biding their time just outside the Middlesbrough box waiting patiently for an opportunity to arise. It was Nemanja Matic who put the final nail in the coffin that has been Middlesbrough’s season.
After some lovely link up play between Hazard and Luiz he chested the ball down and then smashed it past Guzan just on the edge of the 12 yard box.
The biggest cheers of the night were saved for John Terry who come off the bench for a cameo appearance in the 83rd minute, in just five days’ time those same fans could be cheering him as he lifts the Premier League trophy for the 5th time.
For Middlesbrough however, it is a time for rebuilding and reflection as they prepare for life in the Championship once more.
Written by Dom Clarke.
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