Brad Guzan

WATCH: Coutinho’s free kick of the season contender

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Liverpool was trying to finish several things in style, and Philippe Coutinho sent in a free kick with enough gusto to spread across all of those goals.

[ MORE: Celtic finishes unbeaten 2016-17 league season ]

With Liverpool leading 1-0, Coutinho bent a bullet over the wall and past a flying Brad Guzan to put low-scoring Middlesbrough’s relegation campaign to bed.

The goal is Coutinho’s 13th of the season, and helped insure Liverpool’s Top Four bid, as well as the final three points.

AT HALF: Man City, Liverpool lead; Arsenal up 2, down to 10

Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images
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Championship Sunday is well underway, and we already have big drama at Anfield and the Emirates Stadium.

Watford 0-4 Manchester City — USA (STREAM)

Vincent Kompany scored early and Sergio Aguero added a pair. Fernandinho also has a goal, and Pep Guardiola‘s bunch is comfortably approaching third place in the Premier League.

Arsenal 2-0 Everton — NBC (STREAM)

Hector Bellerin scored early for the Gunners, but it’s another defender who put the Gunners in jeopardy. Laurent Koscielny has been sent off, meaning he’ll miss the FA Cup Final as well. Welbeck cued up Alexis for a finish in the 28th minute.

Liverpool 1-0 Middlesbrough — NBCSN (STREAM)

The Reds are living in the Boro end, but needed a Georginio Wijnaldum arrow inside Brad Guzan‘s near post in stoppage time to put the Reds ahead.

Burnley 1-1 West Ham United — Oxygen (STREAM)

Sam Vokes and Sofiane Feghouli trade goals with four minutes to leave it level at the break.

Chelsea 1-1 Sunderland — SYFY (STREAM)

Javier Manquillo scored a deflected goal to put the visitors ahead, but Willian equalized for the champs.

Southampton 0-0 Stoke City — E! (STREAM)

Manchester United 2-0 Crystal Palace — CNBC (STREAM)

Twenty-one year-old Josh Harrop scored on debut, and Paul Pogba has also scored as a group of youngsters is battering Sam Allardyce‘s Palace.

Swansea City 0-1 West Bromwich Albion — Esquire (STREAM)

Jonny Evans scored in the 33rd minute to give the Baggies the lead.

Leicester City 0-1 Bournemouth — BRAVO (STREAM)

Junior Stanislas scored in the first minute to put the hosts down with heaps of time remaining at King Power Stadium.

Hull City 0-3 Tottenham Hotspur — MSNBC (STREAM)

Harry Kane has six goals in his last three halves of football after nabbing markers in the 11th and 13th minutes. Dele Alli finished a chance in stoppage time.

Middlesbrough 1-2 Southampton: Saints alive in race for 8th

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  • Saints go up 2-0
  • Long misses penalty
  • Bamford breaks through

Jay Rodriguez and Nathan Redmond helped Southampton to a two-goal lead, and Saints held on to top Middlesbrough 2-1 on Saturday at the Riverside Stadium.

Saints rise ninth, level on points with West Brom and Bournemouth.

Patrick Bamford scored for already-relegated Middlesbrough, which will finish the season in 19th place.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Brad Guzan denied Shane Long‘s back post pass attempt when he dove to gather it, as Saints were in better form but unable to finish.

Rodriguez put the visitors up in the 42nd minute, as Long met his mark this time around. The Irish striker raced onto a Jordy Clasie ball down the right to send a ball toward the penalty spot, and Rodriguez had little trouble beating Guzan. 1-0.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Saints added to their advantage when Redmond left Fabio in the dust before dribbling to the center of the box and rifling a shot high past Guzan.

The American keeper gave away a penalty on an unnecessary charge toward an onrushing Shane Long, but the Irish striker blasted the ball over the bar.

Bamford pulled one back for Boro off a 73rd minute corner kick, nodding a corner kick inside the near post.

Five takeaways from Chelsea v. Middlesbrough

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LONDON — If the blue ribbons weren’t already being tied onto the Premier League trophy, you can go ahead and do that now.

[ MORE: What now for Fabregas?

After Antonio Conte‘s side beat Middlesbrough 3-0 at Stamford Bridge on Monday, Chelsea need three more points to be crowned Premier League champions (they play West Bromwich Albion on Friday when they can seal the deal) while Boro were relegated back to the Championship at the first attempt.

Here’s five takeaways from a routine win for the champions elect.


FABREGAS IS MAGIC

Within the first 12 minutes of the game Cesc Fabrgeas had hit three pinpoint long passes over the top of Middlesbrough’s defense which twice found Marcos Alonso and then Diego Costa couldn’t quite get on the end of the third pass. He missed a glorious chance when Hazard pulled it back to him on the edge of the box but moments later made up for it as his inviting pass found Diego Costa to slot home the opener. He also found Victor Moses with another delicate chip but his shot was saved and Fabregas had a goalbound volley deflected wide in the second half before teeing up Nemanja Matic for Chelsea’s third.

Yet another defense unlocked by Fabregas who has now picked up four assists in his last three appearances for Chelsea.

After coming into the starting lineup for the injured N'Golo Kante, Fabregas was pulling all the strings for Chelsea in the deep-lying midfield role. The Spanish midfielder turned 30 last week and although he oozed class throughout his status as a regular in Conte’s midfield is questionable at best. Fabregas has started just 11 PL games this season, with 15 appearances from the bench.

Should Fabregas stay at Stamford Bridge this summer and battle for his place once again next season and be content with more appearances due to European competition returning for Chelsea? He may do just that. On this form Chelsea certainly wouldn’t let him move to another Premier League club but rumors persist that a move to AC Milan or Inter could be options. Despite his lack of gametime throughout the season, Fabregas backed up what Chelsea’s fans sing about him. He is indeed magic. Especially when the opposition give him that much time and space to operate in.


CHELSEA READY TO CLINCH AT THE HAWTHORNS

Friday night in West Bromwich in the West Midlands is where this Chelsea team are likely to seal the title.

Throughout the win against Boro, Chelsea’s fans sung “we’re gonna win the league, we’re gonna win the league!” in lackadaisical fashion. A sixth league title (fifth in the Premier League era) is all but confirmed.

Conte’s men need three more points to seal the title and they’ve responded superbly to the 2-0 defeat at Manchester United on Apr. 16. Since then they’ve won three-straight games and the threat of Tottenham only loomed for a few days before the Blues’ ruthless machine once again sped away.

With no European action to tire them, Conte’s passion on the sidelines, a supreme midfielder in N’Golo Kante, stunning displays from Eden Hazard, the goals of Diego Costa and a rock solid defense led by David Luiz, Gary Cahill and Cesar Azpilicueta, Chelsea’s procession to the title has been predictable for some time.

Jet-propelled by their 13-game winning run in the middle of the season following Conte’s switch to a 3-4-3 formation after the loss at Arsenal, nobody has been close to matching this Chelsea team all season.

If they beat West Brom on Friday they’ll confirm what we’ve known for some time: Chelsea is the best team in the Premier League by a country mile.


ALONSO THE GREAT

Marcos Alonso hit the crossbar after two minutes. He then scored with a vicious strike at the near post after 34 minutes and had another show just miss Costa at the back post in the second half.

The Spanish full back has been a revelation at left wing-back this season and has vindicated Antonio Conte’s decision to pay Fiorentina $29.7 million for him. It was one of those signings, along with David Luiz, in the final minutes of the summer transfer deadline which made you sit up and say “why have Chelsea done that?”

Alonso’s displays have answered that question. He adds balance, especially in attack and he is neither a full back who simply likes to defend and not one who simply likes to bomb forward every time he gets a chance. With reports rife that Ryan Bertrand could sign from Southampton this summer, it is hard to understand why Chelsea need a new left back. In this 3-4-3 formation Alonso (and Victor Moses) is so important. Yes, they aren’t the biggest stars but they’re getting the job done comfortably.

After stints at Bolton and Sunderland in the past, 26-year-old Alonso will finally be able to call himself a Premier League winner soon. His displays this season are certainly deserving of that medal.


GUZAN READY TO RETURN TO MLS

Brad Guzan‘s goal was peppered with efforts on Monday as the U.S. national team goalkeeper saved well early on from Alonso but was then caught out at his near post by Alonso for Chelsea’s second. All three of Chelsea’s goals nutmegged Guzan as the Illinois native didn’t have his best day.

Guzan, 32, is probably relieved to be heading back to Major League Soccer with Atlanta United next month after an eight-year stint in England. He battled his way back at Aston Villa after virtually being released but then manager Paul Lambert brought him back to become Villa’s starter and he shone at Villa Park. After their relegation from the PL last season he landed at Boro but quickly found himself second choice behind Victor Valdes for much of this season.

Since mid-April he’s started five games on the trot and is at least ending his time in the PL with playing time, even though it’s on a team which has been relegated.

Guzan comes under the “he’s a good age for a goalkeeper” category with arguably his best years ahead of him and he’ll be the USMNT number one for many years to come.


BORO BELITTLED

At times it was excruciating to watch Boro play on Monday. Caretaker boss Steve Agnew tried his best to spur on his players from the sidelines but it was no use. Chelsea were in a different universe, let alone world, to Boro.

After Aitor Karanka‘s sacking in March, there seemed to be only one outcome for Boro. Relegation was confirmed on Monday but it had been coming since the turn of the year as their meager return of 26 goals in 36 PL games is the worst in the PL.

Is Agnew the right man to move them forward? Time will tell. Loyal chairman Steve Gibson will need to follow Newcastle United’s model of spending big to come straight back at the first attempt next season. First and foremost he needs to get a new man in charge to help give Boro a new identity.

They’ve huffed and puffed and hung in games for most of the season, but that’s about it.

Chelsea 3-0 Middlesbrough: One win separates Blues from PL glory

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The Blues are one win away from Premier League glory after a brilliant display at home on Monday, while their opponent will spend next season in England’s second-tier.

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Chelsea handled Middlesbrough, 3-0, at Stamford Bridge after a trio of goalscorers helped pace Antonio Conte‘s side to a comfortable victory, the team’s 27th of the 2016/17 campaign.

[ MORE: Zlatan’s agent says star is healing well, doctors amazed ]

Meanwhile, the Boro will be playing Championship soccer in the fall after failing to pick up at least a point in Monday’s match. Steve Agnew‘s side sit on 28 points with two matches remaining and join Sunderland as two of the PL’s already-relegated sides.

Nemanja Matic put the game to bed in the 65th minute when the holding midfielder chested down a flick-cross from Cesc Fabregas inside the penalty area and proceeded to finish the chance.

Marcos Alonso scored 11 minutes from halftime after stretching near the Boro end line and blasting a near-post shot into the back of the net.

The Chelsea midfield tortured the Boro backline all day with their switching of field, and Cesc Fabregas linked up with his fellow Spaniard for the game’s first goal.

Diego Costa scored his 20th goal of the season in the 23rd minute after the striker controlled Fabregas’ through ball over the top of the Boro defense and finished between the legs of U.s. Men’s National Team goalkeeper Brad Guzan.

According to Opta Sports, Costa joins Didier Drogba and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink as the third Blues player to score 20-plus goals in multiple seasons for the club.

Chelsea continued its dominating performance after the halftime whistle, with Pedro coming close to making it 3-0 just seconds into the second stanza after clipping his shot off the crossbar.

The Blues nearly enjoyed a dream start when Alonso blasted a volley from a Fabregas cross, but Guzan made a tremendous save and pushed the ball onto the crossbar.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

With three matches remaining, Chelsea now hold a seven-point lead over second-place Tottenham at the summit of England’s top flight. A victory on Friday against West Brom would clinch the PL title for the Blues.