Chelsea have moved 11 points clear at the top of the Premier League table after recording a 3-1 win over relegation-threatened Swansea City at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
Fernando Llorente cancelled out a Cesc Fabregas opener to leave the two teams level at the interval, but Pedro and Diego Costa struck in the second period to ensure that Chelsea returned to winning ways in the league.
Chelsea boss Antonio Conte handed a rare starting role to experienced midfielder Fabregas, with the Spaniard, on his 300th Premier League appearance, chosen over Nemanja Matic alongside N’Golo Kante in central midfield. Pedro, meanwhile, was again given the nod over Willian on the right of the home side’s attack.
Fabregas was not to be denied, however, and sent the home side ahead in the 19th minute when he collected a low cross from Pedro before bundling the ball into the bottom corner of the net.
It did appear that the home side would take a one-goal lead into the interval after just one minute of additional time was signalled at the end of the first period, but Swansea had other ideas and a wonderful Llorente header from a Sigurdsson free kick saw the Welsh outfit level in the 47th minute of action.
Hazard had a super chance to send Chelsea back ahead in the early stages of the second period, but the Belgian international’s low strike brought a smart save from Fabianski, who palmed the ball away from the penalty area.
Moments later, Hazard set up Fabregas as the home side, who were very much on the front foot, had another shooting chance inside the Swansea box, but the midfielder’s effort rattled the top of the crossbar.
Swansea were always vulnerable on the counter-attack, however, and the home side made sure of all the points in the 84th minute when Costa volleyed a Hazard cross past Fabianski from close range.
Next up for Chelsea is a trip to West Ham United in the league on March 6, while Swansea will attempt to return to winning ways when they host Burnley on March 4.
Swansea City defeated Liverpool 3-2 at Anfield to climb out of the Premier League relegation zone and inflict serious damage on their opponent’s title charge.
All five goals came in the second half of the match, with Fernando Llorente and Roberto Firmino cancelling each other out before Gylfi Sigurdsson popped up with the decisive fifth.
A fifth win of the season for Swansea – and their first in 15 attempts in the league at Anfield – is enough to take them up to 17th place, while Liverpool remain seven points adrift of leaders, Chelsea.
The second half started in complete contrast to the first, as Swansea raced into a two-goal lead in double-quick time on Merseyside thanks to a Llorente double.
Llorente prodded home from close range after Liverpool failed to deal with a corner into the box for his first away goal in the Premier League, before converting Carroll’s left-sided cross with his head just four minutes later.
Firmino ensured that the Reds had hope of keeping their impressive Anfield record intact, though, as he nodded home from a James Milner ball to cut the deficit in half – the 50th goal scored by Liverpool in the Premier League this season.
Henderson then had an effort kept out by Lukasz Fabianski, but there was to be no stopping Firmino as he cushioned the ball with his chest and blasted past Fabianski on the half-volley to draw Liverpool level.
There only looked like being one winner in the minutes that followed, with the hosts – who had lost just three of their 28 games this season prior to this one – really upping the pressure.
Swansea incredibly regained their lead a little over 15 minutes from time, however, as Sigurdsson tucked past Simon Mignolet after Carroll’s blocked shot deflected into his path 10 yards out.
Divock Origi came close to another dramatic leveller after being brought off the bench, while Lovren and Lallana were also denied by Fabianski, yet in the end the visitors did enough to inflict a first home defeat of the campaign on their opponents.