West Brom vs Chelsea: Batshuayi wins the Premier League for Antonio Conte
Belgian striker is the unlikely hero with a late strike as the Blues win the title at The Hawthorns
Fabregas masterclass leaves Chelsea one game from glory
Chelsea 3 Middlesbrough 0
Chelsea condemned Middlesbrough to relegation at Stamford Bridge on Monday night as they moved a step closer to winning the Premier League title.
Goals from Diego Costa, Marcos Alonso and Nemanja Matic sealed the victory for Chelsea but the outstanding performance of the evening came from Cesc Fabregas. It's been one of the curiosities of the Blues' league campaign that they've rarely found space for the 30-year-old Spaniard in their starting XI but on the few times they have he's never disappointed.
Against Middlesbrough he gave a masterclass from midfield, as he deputised for the injured N'Golo Kante, and it was his pass that enabled Diego Costa to open the scoring on 23 minutes. In doing so Fabregas became the first player to clock up ten Premier League assists in six different seasons.
Marcos Alonso doubled Chelsea's advantage before the interval when his shot went in off the legs of Boro keeper Brad Guzan and Nemanja Matic scored the third on 66 minutes, with Fabregas once again the creator.
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte hailed the performance of Fabregas in his post-match interview, telling reporters: "Cesc is one of the best examples of our season. He he didn't play a lot at the start. Then, through hard work, he improved a lot and now he is playing in every game. This development of Cesc is our development... I think Cesc is showing he is a fantastic player and I'm pleased for him."
As for the team display, Conte described it as "a great performance" and one that took his side to the brink of the title. "At this stage it was important to win and exploit Tottenham's defeat," he said. "Now, another step to the title. We have to rest well and prepare for West Brom."
It was a contrasting emotion in the visitors dressing room, a place Middlesbrough boss Steve Agnew described as "very silent" following the final whistle. "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," he said.
"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, and the least they deserve is Premier League football."