Costa sends Chelsea to the top

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Sport Starts Here -

DIEGO COSTA’S 10th goal of the sea­son moved Chelsea top of the Premier League af­ter a dom­i­nant win over Mid­dles­brough at the River­side Sta­dium.

Af­ter an even start, Chelsea upped the tempo and de­servedly led at the break when Costa re­acted quick­est to drill in a loose ball in­side the Boro box.

The Blues con­tin­ued to cre­ate chances, Pe­dro go­ing clos­est when he smacked a ris­ing drive against the cross­bar.

Boro’s best chance came when Al­varo Ne­gredo’s 78th minute vol­ley was saved.

It was the only time the home side forced Blues keeper Thibaut Cour­tois into a se­ri­ous stop as they lost for the first time in four matches.

Chelsea leapfrogged Liver­pool and Manch­ester City to go a point clear, while Boro re­main one point above the rel­e­ga­tion zone in 15th place.

Chelsea boss An­to­nio Conte was ef­fu­sive in his praise of Costa be­fore the game, la­belling the Spain in­ter­na­tional as “one of the best strik­ers in the world”.

While the for­mer Atletico Madrid front­man did not find him­self pre­sented with plenty of goalscor­ing chances, he was con­stantly both­er­ing the Boro cen­tre­backs with his move­ment, strength and will­ing­ness to chase seem­ingly lost causes.

And, most im­por­tantly, he was clin­i­cal when a sniff of an op­por­tu­nity ar­rived.

Boro failed to deal with Eden Hazard’s in­swing­ing cor­ner just be­fore half-time, Costa re­act­ing quick­est to in­stinc­tively stab in an an­gled ef­fort from in­side the six-yard box.

With Hazard quiet in com­par­i­son to re­cent weeks, Costa was the ful­crum of the visi­tors’ at­tack­ing play.

The 28-year-old match­win­ner also teed up chances for Pe­dro, Mar­cos Alonso and Hazard, show­ing once again he is back to the form which helped the Blues win the Premier League ti­tle 18 months ago in his first sea­son at the club. —

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