Vitality Stadium, Bournemouth, England
17′ Smith (OG)
Chelsea remained seven points clear of second-placed Tottenham Hotspur in the race for the Premier League title after defeating Bournemouth 3-1 away at the Vitality Stadium to bring to an end the Cherries’ five-match unbeaten run in the league.
An own-goal from Adam Smith, who deflected Diego Costa’s miscued strike and a fine solo-finish from Eden Hazard, looked to have given Chelsea a comfortable two-goal margin at the break but Joshua King’s deflected strike three minutes before the interval gave the Cherries hope. However Marcos Alonso’s terrific second-half freekick made sure of all three points for Antonio Conte’s men.
The visitors got off to a shaky first couple of minutes and nearly became the architects of their own downfall as the glare of the sun caused David Luiz problems. The Brazilian defender’s miscued clearance from a Ryan Fraser cross forced Thibaut Courtois into a fine instinctive-save, with the keeper palming the ball behind in the opening minute.
Chelsea had a good chance in the 10th minute when Hazard was found by César Azpilicueta with a fine cross-field pass but the winger could only head the ball wide on the slide.
Five minutes later the hosts had a good chance on the break when Fraser was fed by Jack Wilshere, the winger surged forward before firing wide.
Two minutes later Chelsea took the lead after Costa’s totally miscued-effort on the turn, that looked to be going wide, took a fortuitous deflection off Smith to find the back of the net.
Three minutes later the visitors doubled their lead when Hazard latched onto a fine cross-field pass from N’Golo Kanté before rounding Artur Boruc to fire the ball home.
In the 26th minute Chelsea had a good chance to add to their tally when Hazard pulled the ball back to Costa, but he dragged his effort wide of the target.
Two minutes later the Cherries very nearly pulled a goal back when a dangerous delivery from Charlie Daniels was met by Benik Afobe on the volley but his effort struck the post with the loose ball hitting Courtois and staying out.
In the 35th minute the visitors went close to a third when Hazard found Victor Moses with a cross but the Nigerian headed the ball just wide with a diving-header under-pressure from Simon Francis.
Three minutes before the break, Bournemouth reduced the deficit when King’s powerful strike deflected off Luiz past Courtois into the top-corner.
The hosts started the second-half well and went close four minutes into the restart when Marc Pugh teed up Fraser, whose effort from-range flew inches wide.
The visitors had a good chance in the 55th minute when Alonso sent a dangerous delivery towards Costa, but he swung a foot at the ball and missed it.
In the 68th minute Chelsea made it three when Alonso curled a freekick wonderfully into the top-corner.
Eleven minutes later the league-leaders went close to a fourth when Moses cut-inside to beat Wilshere before firing a powerful effort that Boruc did well to palm away.
Five minutes later Chelsea went close to extending their lead when Costa exchanged passes with Pedro before firing an effort at-goal that Boruc saved comfortably.
The result meant that Chelsea remained top of the league and now moved onto 75 points while Bournemouth remained in 15th on 35 points.