Premier League
Chelsea3Middlesbrough0

Chelsea 3-0 Middlesbrough

Costa
Diego Costa's 20th Premier League goal of the season gave Chelsea the lead

Chelsea moved to within one win of the Premier League title and confirmed Middlesbrough's relegation with a consummate performance and emphatic victory at Stamford Bridge.

Antonio Conte's side can become champions with victory against West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns on Friday night while Middlesbrough must contemplate a future back in the Championship after they were swept aside on Monday.

The Blues had already created a succession of chances before Diego Costa turned in man of the match Cesc Fabregas' pass after 23 minutes.

And the contest was effectively over when Marcos Alonso scored at the far post via the legs of Middlesbrough keeper Brad Guzan 11 minutes before the break.

Fabregas created Chelsea's third which Nemanja Matic converted as the hosts laid siege to Boro's goal, with the final whistle bringing contrasting emotions.

Chelsea on the brink of glory

Alonso touches
Marcos Alonso epitomised Chelsea's attacking intent, with the wing-back touching the ball twice in his own area and seven times in the Boro area

In this mood it is hard to see the league title coming from anywhere other than at West Brom on Friday night.

Baggies manager Tony Pulis was watching from the stand at Stamford Bridge and will have gone away with plenty of food for thought after a Chelsea display that oozed class and intent.

Middlesbrough - downhearted, defeated and on their way back to the Championship - were little more than cannon fodder here.

From the opening moments when Guzan turned Alonso's shot on to the bar, Chelsea were rampant, nerveless and played with the swagger, poise and menace of the best team in the Premier League.

Chelsea's nerves may have shown momentarily in those defeats at home to Crystal Palace and at Manchester United in April, but the response has been magnificent, reeling off wins in the FA Cup semi-final against Tottenham and in the Premier League against Southampton, Everton and now Middlesbrough.

It is a question of when, rather than if the ebullient, effervescent Conte claims the title in his first season in England - and Chelsea will be fully deserved champions.

Fabregas shows touches of genius

Chelsea's fans talk about Fabregas wearing a "magic hat", but all the magic was in his boots as he picked the visitors apart here at Stamford Bridge.

The 30-year-old was a key purchase from Barcelona when Jose Mourinho brought the title back to Chelsea to two seasons ago. But this season he will be a different kind of title-winner.

The signing of N'Golo Kante from Leicester City and Chelsea's subsequent success has meant Fabregas, who would have been first choice in almost every other Premier League side, has been marginalised and unable to claim a regular place.

When he has, however, the Spain midfielder has shown the class and quality that has made him one of the game's enduring talents in the recent era.

Fabregas stepped in here for the injured Kante and gave a midfield masterclass, and when he created Chelsea's opener for Costa he became the first player to record 10 Premier League assists in six different seasons.

He also created Chelsea's third for Matic with a glorious instinctive flick that unlocked Middlesbrough again.

Fabregas may wish to seek more regular first team football elsewhere despite being on course to claim another Premier League title winners' medal - and on this evidence there will be no shortage of takers.

Middlesbrough go down without a fight

Boro
Boro's players were dejected at the final whistle, but Antonio Conte consoled his counterpart Steve Agnew

Middlesbrough knew they were fighting against all the odds to try and avoid the defeat that would send them back into the Championship - and it was a battle they never looked like winning.

They were on the back foot from the first whistle and were simply overwhelmed by a Chelsea side who would not be denied. The Middlesbrough fans, who were stoic throughout, were applauded by Conte after the final whistle.

The feeling will remain that Middlesbrough have simply come and gone without contributing a great deal to this Premier League season. Could they have been bolder in pursuit of survival?

Boro have proved stubborn in defence on many occasions but have been totally undermined by a failure to score goals - and a failure to cure that obvious problem.

Aitor Karanka, the man who brought Middlesbrough up but who left in March as the decline started to accelerate, was backed by chairman Steve Gibson in January but his attacking purchases were never going to provide the answer.

Rudy Gestede arrived from Aston Villa and Patrick Bamford from Chelsea, but neither are of Premier League quality and the price was paid with relegation.

Middlesbrough look to currently have a good squad for the Championship - but this was a horribly tame end to their Premier League ambitions.

Man of the match - Cesc Fabregas

Fabregas
A vintage midfield performance from Cesc Fabregas, who made more passes in Boro's half than any of his team-mates

'The fans deserve Premier League football' - What the managers said

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Chelsea showed they deserve to win the league - Antonio Conte

Chelsea boss Antonio Conte: "We must be pleased. It was a great performance, my players showed commitment and work-rate for three important points.

"At this stage it was important to win and exploit Tottenham's defeat. Now, another step to the title. We have to rest well and prepare for West Brom."

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Chelsea 3-0 Middlesbrough: Steve Agnew is 'absolutely gutted' by Boro relegation

Middlesbrough boss Steve Agnew: "I am absolutely gutted and bitterly disappointed with the result and we have now lost our Premier League status which we took great pride in.

"I have just left a very silent dressing room.

"We haven't had enough wins and that's the key to the whole thing. Scoring goals wins football matches and we haven't done that enough this season.

"I have to say the fans all season have been outstanding - home and away has been top class and the least they deserve is Premier League football."

Boro make it four relegations - the stats

  • Chelsea have become the third club to win 300 Premier League home games, after Manchester United (347) and Arsenal (306)
  • Middlesbrough have been relegated from the Premier League for the fourth time - no side has suffered the drop more often since its inception [level with Crystal Palace, Norwich City and Sunderland]
  • Diego Costa became the third player to score 20+ goals in a Premier League season for Chelsea on two occasions [Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink in 2000-01 & 2001-02 and Didier Drogba in 2006-07 & 2009-10]
  • Costa has also scored the opening goal of a Premier League game on seven occasions this season - no other player has done so more
  • Middlesbrough have failed to score in 11 Premier League away games this season, more than any other side in the division

What's next?

Chelsea will win the title if they beat West Brom on Friday. Even if they do not, they have two more opportunities to wrap up the title against Watford and Sunderland at home.

Middlesbrough will finish life in the Premier League by hosting Southampton on Saturday before going to Liverpool on Sunday, 21 May.

Line-ups

Chelsea

  • 13Courtois
  • 28Azpilicueta
  • 30David LuizSubstituted forTerryat 84'minutes
  • 24Cahill
  • 15Moses
  • 4Fàbregas
  • 21Matic
  • 3Alonso
  • 11PedroSubstituted forChalobahat 81'minutes
  • 10HazardSubstituted forWillianat 72'minutes
  • 19Diego Costa

Substitutes

  • 1Begovic
  • 5Zouma
  • 6Aké
  • 14Loftus-Cheek
  • 22Willian
  • 26Terry
  • 29Chalobah

Middlesbrough

  • 12Guzan
  • 2FabioBooked at 60mins
  • 25Chambers
  • 6Gibson
  • 3Friend
  • 14de Roon
  • 8Clayton
  • 34ForshawSubstituted forLeadbitterat 56'minutes
  • 37TraoréSubstituted forBamfordat 57'minutesBooked at 89mins
  • 10NegredoSubstituted forGestedeat 83'minutes
  • 19Downing

Substitutes

  • 1Konstantopoulos
  • 5Bernardo
  • 7Leadbitter
  • 17Barragán
  • 20Bamford
  • 27Guédioura
  • 29Gestede
Referee:
Craig Pawson
Attendance:
41,500

Match Stats

Home TeamChelseaAway TeamMiddlesbrough
Possession
Home57%
Away43%
Shots
Home21
Away2
Shots on Target
Home7
Away1
Corners
Home8
Away1
Fouls
Home8
Away21

Live Text

Match ends, Chelsea 3, Middlesbrough 0.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Chelsea 3, Middlesbrough 0.

Hand ball by George Friend (Middlesbrough).

Foul by Willian (Chelsea).

Adam Clayton (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Attempt missed. Nemanja Matic (Chelsea) left footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left. Assisted by Cesc Fàbregas following a corner.

Corner, Chelsea. Conceded by Adam Clayton.

Corner, Chelsea. Conceded by Fabio.

Booking

Patrick Bamford (Middlesbrough) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Marcos Alonso (Chelsea) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by Patrick Bamford (Middlesbrough).

Foul by Cesc Fàbregas (Chelsea).

Patrick Bamford (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Substitution

Substitution, Chelsea. John Terry replaces David Luiz.

David Luiz (Chelsea) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Foul by George Friend (Middlesbrough).

Substitution

Substitution, Middlesbrough. Rudy Gestede replaces Álvaro Negredo.

Diego Costa (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Calum Chambers (Middlesbrough).

Substitution

Substitution, Chelsea. Nathaniel Chalobah replaces Pedro.

Gary Cahill (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Patrick Bamford (Middlesbrough).

Attempt saved. Victor Moses (Chelsea) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

Attempt blocked. Diego Costa (Chelsea) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Willian with a cross.

Offside, Middlesbrough. Adam Clayton tries a through ball, but Patrick Bamford is caught offside.

Attempt missed. Pedro (Chelsea) left footed shot from the left side of the box is too high. Assisted by Diego Costa.

Foul by Pedro (Chelsea).

Patrick Bamford (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Substitution

Substitution, Chelsea. Willian replaces Eden Hazard.

Foul by Diego Costa (Chelsea).

Brad Guzan (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Attempt saved. Grant Leadbitter (Middlesbrough) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Fabio.

Goal!

Goal! Chelsea 3, Middlesbrough 0. Nemanja Matic (Chelsea) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the centre of the goal. Assisted by Cesc Fàbregas following a corner.

Corner, Chelsea. Conceded by Ben Gibson.

Nemanja Matic (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Patrick Bamford (Middlesbrough).

Hand ball by Adam Clayton (Middlesbrough).

Booking

Fabio (Middlesbrough) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Eden Hazard (Chelsea) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Fabio (Middlesbrough).

goal

As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Chelsea35273575294684
2Tottenham35238471234877
3Liverpool362010671422970
4Man City35209670373369
5Man Utd351714451272465
6Arsenal34196966422463
7Everton3616101060411958
8West Brom35129144145-445
9Leicester35127164554-943
10Southampton34119143944-542
11Bournemouth36119165265-1342
12West Ham36119164559-1442
13Stoke361011153952-1341
14Burnley36117183751-1440
15Watford35117173758-2140
16Crystal Palace36115204661-1538
17Swansea36105214169-2835
18Hull3697203669-3334
19Middlesbrough36513182648-2228
20Sunderland3566232860-3224
View full Premier League table

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