London - Diego Costa struck his 11th goal in 10
Premier League games as leaders Chelsea cruised to a comfortable 2-0 home win
over 10-man West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.
Costa put the hosts on course for victory
in the 11th minute and Eden Hazard added a second in the 25th minute, shortly
before Claudio Yacob was dismissed for an ugly, two-footed lunge on Costa.
The one-sided win extended Jose Mourinho's
side's lead at the head of the table to seven points, 48 hours before
second-place Southampton travel to Aston Villa.
And the manner of victory only reinforced
the growing consensus that the title is destined to end up at Stamford Bridge
Costa and Cesc Fabregas had both been left
out of the Spain squad for the recent international break to allow them to
recover from niggling injuries.
Speaking before the game, Mourinho claimed
Costa was now free of his hamstring and groin problems and ready to play a full
role in the crowded schedule leading up to the turn of the year.
And the striker appeared ominously sharp
right from the opening moments of the game as Chelsea simply swept West Brom
It had taken a controversial late penalty
from Hazard to deny Albion a deserved victory in last season's corresponding
fixture, but 12 months on, there was never any doubt Chelsea would secure the
The home side would have been ahead within
five minutes but for the sharp reactions of West Brom goalkeeper Ben Foster,
who stuck out a leg to repel John Terry's close-range effort.
Foster would continue to play a major role
in the visitors' efforts to keep Chelsea at bay.
But the England man had no chance with the
11th-minute opening goal, which demonstrated why Chelsea have been so
formidable in attack this season.
Oscar collected the ball wide on the left
and, seeing Costa free in space near the penalty spot, picked out his team-mate
with a superb cross that the striker collected on his chest before volleying
It seemed only a matter of time before a
second goal came along, despite the best efforts of Foster, who produced a
full-length save to block Oscar's powerful shot.
Chelsea's passing and movement were
outstanding, with Fabregas, Willian, Oscar and Hazard combining to repeatedly
expose the West Brom back-line.
The last thing Alan Irvine's side needed,
then, was to gift the home team the opportunity to double their lead from a
But when Stephane Sessegnon failed to track
Hazard's run towards the near post, the Belgium winger was able to collect
Fabregas's corner unchallenged and drill the ball beneath Foster via a slight
Things went from bad to worse for the
visitors when Yacob conjured an even more spectacular act of self-destruction
that forced his side to play for 61 minutes with 10 men.
West Brom were facing humiliation, but they
were spared by Chelsea's failure to go for the kill after the break.
Nemanja Matic volleyed over when he should
have scored after being picked out by yet another fine Oscar pass and Foster
again saved well from Hazard.
But Mourinho's side were also guilty of
over-elaborating in the final third of the pitch and failed to translate their
territorial dominance into more goals.English Premiership results:
Stoke City 1-2 Burnley
Manchester City 2-1
West Ham United
Leicester City 0-0
Newcastle United 1-0
Queens Park Rangers
Chelsea 2-0 West Bromwich Albion
Arsenal v Manchester United - 19:30
Crystal Palace v Liverpool - 15:30
Hull City v Tottenham Hotspur - 18:00
Aston Villa v Southampton - 22:00