MX23RW : Friday, November 16 01:55:31
May 8, 2017 at 8pm UK at ​Stamford Bridge
Attendance: 41,500
Chelsea
3-0
Middlesbrough
FT

Result: Chelsea relegate Middlesbrough to march on towards Premier League title

Middlesbrough are relegated from the Premier League courtesy of a 3-0 defeat to Chelsea, who move to within one win of a second title in three years.

Middlesbrough have been relegated from the Premier League courtesy of a 3-0 defeat to title-chasing Chelsea at Stamford Bridge this evening.

Boro arrived in West London knowing that they needed a victory to realistically stand any chance of bridging the seven-point gap to Swansea City, but they were utterly outclassed as strikes from Diego Costa and Nemanja Matic either side of a Brad Guzan own goal took Chelsea to within one win of the Premier League title.

The Blues now sit seven points clear of Tottenham Hotspur at the top of the table and will wrap up their second title in the space of three years with victory over West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns on Friday night.

Diego Costa celebrates scoring during the Premier League game between Chelsea and Middlesbrough on May 8, 2017© SilverHub

Chelsea were without newly-crowned FWA Footballer of the Year N'Golo Kante due to a thigh injury, but Cesc Fabregas was not a bad replacement and the Spaniard went on to pull the strings during a dominant display from the home side.

Chelsea could have been ahead within two minutes when Fabregas floated a diagonal ball into the left channel for Marcos Alonso, who stole in unmarked at the back post before firing a sweetly-struck first-time volley towards goal which Guzan fortuitously deflected against the crossbar.

It was an avenue of attack that the hosts repeatedly exploited as Boro struggled to come up with an answer, and they were lucky to avoid being punished after 17 minutes when Fabregas placed an effort comfortably wide of the target after being picked out by Eden Hazard.

Antonio Conte celebrates as Nemanja Matic makes it three during the Premier League game between Chelsea and Middlesbrough on May 8, 2017© SilverHub

Steve Agnew's side were afforded another let-off shortly afterwards when Hazard again broke behind the defence down the left channel and played a teasing low pass across the face of goal which George Friend did just enough to prevent Costa turning home from close range.

Costa did not have to wait long for his 20th Premier League goal of the season, though, being picked out by another diagonal ball from Fabregas before taking a touch and slotting his finish through Guzan's legs from close range.

A second goal always seemed likely, and it was no surprise that it arrived via a similar means, with Cesar Azpilicueta this time playing the diagonal pass for Alonso, whose volley across the face of goal deflected in off the legs of Guzan.

Marcos Alonso celebrates scoring his side's second during the Premier League game between Chelsea and Middlesbrough on May 8, 2017© SilverHub

Two almost became three shortly afterwards as Chelsea really began to drive home their dominance, with Fabregas spreading another pinpoint pass to release Victor Moses, whose low drive was kept out by the Middlesbrough keeper.

Alonso came close again with just four minutes remaining until half time with a deflected free kick that flew just over, but Chelsea went into the break in complete control and unfortunate not to be even further ahead.

If there was any rousing Boro teamtalk ahead of their final 45 minutes before relegation then Chelsea were quick to reassert their dominance upon the restart and, having hit the crossbar within two minutes of the first half, they did the same in the opening minute of the second.

Antonio Conte's side came flying out of the blocks and Hazard rolled the ball into the path of Pedro, who clipped the top of the bar with a powerful strike from the edge of the box.

George Friend, Alvaro Negredo and Marten de Roon in action during the Premier League game between Chelsea and Middlesbrough on May 8, 2017© SilverHub

It was a sign of things to come as Chelsea continued their onslaught throughout the second half, with Azpilicueta sending one 25-yard drive narrowly over before Costa was inches short of turning Alonso's cross/shot home from close range.

Gary Cahill was the next to let fly with a thunderous first-time effort as players throughout the Chelsea team tried their luck against their besieged visitors, but Guzan was able to beat the skipper's strike away at the near post.

Fabregas was close to helping himself to a deserved goal moments later when his volley came off Calum Chambers before trickling agonisingly past the post.

The third goal eventually arrived shortly after the hour mark as Fabregas clipped a pass in to Matic, who chested the ball down inside the area before firing his finish through Guzan's legs - completing a hat-trick of nutmegs for the Boro keeper.

Nemanja Matic celebrates scoring with Eden Hazard during the Premier League game between Chelsea and Middlesbrough on May 8, 2017© SilverHub

It was also Fabregas's 10th assist of the season, making him the first player in Premier League history to reach double figures in six different campaigns.

Boro's slim hopes of survival were dead and buried by that point, but the visitors did finally draw a save from Thibaut Courtois with just over 20 minutes remaining when the Chelsea keeper collected Grant Leadbitter's low strike.

If either side were going to get a fourth goal then it would have been Chelsea, though, and Pedro blazed another opportunity over the crossbar before Guzan was called upon to deny a powerful strike from Moses.

Chelsea's dominance was such that the full-time whistle may have been a welcome sound for Boro, despite it confirming their relegation from the top flight for a record-equalling fourth time with two games to spare.

Stewart Downing looking downbeat during the Premier League game between Chelsea and Middlesbrough on May 8, 2017© SilverHub

Boro are left seven points from safety with only two games remaining having now won just one of their last 19 Premier League games.

Chelsea, meanwhile, have now won 17 of their last 18 matches at Stamford Bridge and become only the third team in Premier League history to have won 300 games in front of their own fans.

More importantly, though, the seven-point gap to Tottenham means that Chelsea only need one win from their final three games of the season to clinch the title - something they could achieve before Spurs kick another ball.

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Ray Wilkins Assistant manager of Aston Villa during the Pre Season Friendly match between Nottingham Forest and Aston Villa at City Ground on August 1, 2015
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Manchester CityMan City1210203653132
2Liverpool129302351830
3Chelsea128402781928
4Tottenham HotspurSpurs1290320101027
5Arsenal1273226151124
6Bournemouth126242116520
7Watford126241714320
8Manchester UnitedMan Utd126242021-120
9Everton125431915419
10Leicester CityLeicester125251716117
11Wolverhampton WanderersWolves124441213-116
12Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton124261318-514
13West Ham UnitedWest Ham123361418-412
14Newcastle UnitedNewcastle12237915-69
15Burnley122371225-139
16Crystal Palace12228817-98
17Southampton12156821-138
18Cardiff CityCardiff122281125-148
19Huddersfield TownHuddersfield12147622-167
20Fulham121291131-205

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