Chelsea come up with ‘good answer’ to Spurs

Premier League

Chelsea delivered the perfect response to Tottenham Hotspur by winning 3-­1 at Bournemouth on Saturday to restore their seven-­point lead at the top of the Premier League table.

Antonio Conte’s men went ahead after 17 minutes when Bournemouth’s Adam Smith deflected in Diego Costa’s shot, and Eden Hazard made it 2­-0 within a minute.

Tell a friend
Chelsea star Eden Hazard holds off Adam Smith and Harry Arter of Bournemouth. Photo: John Sibley, Action Images via ReutersChelsea manager Antonio Conte was a happy man after his team regained their seven-point lead. Photo: John Sibley, Action Images via Reuters

Joshua King halved the deficit just before half­time, but Marcos Alonso made it 3­-1 with a perfectly flighted free kick after 68 minutes.

Tottenham had trimmed Chelsea’s advantage to four points by crushing Watford 4­-0 earlier in the day, but Chelsea’s victory left them seven points clear with seven games of the season remaining.

“When you have this type of opponent who is in good form and wants to catch you, it is important to have a good answer. This is a good answer,” Conte told the BBC.

“There are seven games to go and in England, it is not easy, there is a lot of pressure. It’s normal to have a good pressure (after Spurs won).”

However, they were almost a goal down in the first minute.

Bournemouth midfielder Ryan Fraser curled a cross into the six­-yard area and David Luiz, perhaps blinded by the low sun, sliced his attempt at a volleyed clearance back towards his own net.

It looked a certain goal until goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois flung out his left arm to divert the ball for a corner-­kick.

But Chelsea recovered their composure quickly and took the lead, just after Jack Wilshere – ­­on loan to Bournemouth from Arsenal – ­­had created a chance for Fraser that he put well wide.

Luiz began the move with a pass out to Victor Moses on the right. His low ball inside found Costa, who turned and shot left­-footed.

His mis-hit effort was going well wide until it grazed the head of right­ back Smith, who was attempting to block, and dropped gently inside the post with goalkeeper Artur Boruc hopelessly wrong-­footed.

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte was a happy man after his team regained their seven-point lead. Photo: John Sibley, Action Images via Reuters

Costa had not scored in his previous four appearances for Chelsea, but manager Conte had expressed his confidence in the forward as a scorer and creator of goals. This was vindication of a sort.

A minute later it was 2-­0 after Wilshere lost possession in midfield and N’Golo Kante sent Hazard through.

Just onside, Hazard ran on, feinted to shoot to the goalkeeper’s right, went round him to his left and rolled the ball into the net despite appearing to stumble.

Bournemouth were in no mood to surrender to the league leaders, though, and they pulled a goal back three minutes before the interval.

King took Benik Afobe’s pass and, as defenders retreated, tried a shot. The ball flicked off the thigh of Luiz and zipped high between Courtois and his near post.

Costa contributed to Chelsea’s third goal when he was fouled 22 yards out by Steve Cook.

Alonso capped an excellent performance with a precise free­ kick that soared over the wall and found the top-­right corner of the net with Boruc rooted to his line.

AFP, Reuters

Tell a friend