Eden Hazard’s dazzling goal inspired Chelsea to a 2-1 victory at West Ham United on Monday as Antonio Conte’s side restored their 10-point advantage in the Premier League.
Hazard finished off a lightning counter-attack in the 25th minute and Diego Costa’s 49th league goal for Chelsea rubber-stamped victory before Manuel Lanzini belatedly replied in stoppage time.
“I think we played a good game,” Chelsea manager Conte told Sky Sports.
“We controlled the game. It’s a pity for the goal we conceded at the end. To give away a clean sheet at the end is not good.
“We must improve in this situation. But I’m pleased. We showed great concentration and commitment and will to win.”
With Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City having won at the weekend, this was a test of Chelsea’s nerve, but their assured display suggested there will be few bumps on the road to the title.
Hazard, in particular, brimmed with self-belief, at one point using his back to play a showy pass to N’Golo Kante, while Costa took his tally for the season to 18 goals in all competitions.
West Ham had won 2-1 when the sides last met in the League Cup in October, but Lanzini’s late strike gave the final score at London Stadium a slightly misleading gloss for the home side.
“Chelsea are where they are for a reason,” said West Ham manager Slaven Bilic, whose team remain 11th in the table.
“To beat them, you need them to make mistakes, not the other way round.”
Andy Carroll’s return after a month out with a groin injury gave Bilic’s men a welcome attacking focal point and they looked for the towering striker at every opportunity.
Robert Snodgrass and Lanzini curled a succession of testing crosses into the Chelsea box, but the visitors withstood the aerial onslaught before taking the lead in ruthless fashion.
All it took was a misplaced Mark Noble pass to set Chelsea off, with Kante intercepting the loose ball before ferrying a pass down the left touchline to Hazard, who moved it infield to Pedro.