- Batshuayi’s 2nd PL goal wins the title
- Baggies held on for dear life for 81 minutes
- Conte’s debut season ends in a title
After taking over the Premier League lead on Dec. 11, it was always going to end this way: Antonio Conte‘s first season in England has resulted in a sixth first-division title (fifth in the PL era) for Chelsea.
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Friday’s 1-0 victory away to West Bromwich Albion, in which Conte’s side was held in check for more than 80 minutes, was the final nail in the coffin of Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea’s closest competitors, and now they can’t be caught.
The Blues’ first-half chances amounted to little more than a pair of speculative efforts from just outside the 18-yard box early on, and a moon-bound blast from Diego Costa two minutes before halftime. Pedro spotted a narrow corridor through a sea of bodies and fired toward goal, but the Spaniard’s effort went just wide of Ben Foster‘s left-hand post. Cesc Fabregas also failed to test Foster, as his low, bouncing effort from near the corner of the penalty area flashed across the face of goal and wide of the opposite post.
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Chelsea bent in transition as West Brom threatened on the counter on three notable occasions during the first half, but refused to break. David Luiz and Gary Cahill eventually arrived in the nick of time to clear danger each time Chris Brunt and Salomon Rondo asked of them.
The second half began with Foster making a spectacular diving save to deny Victor Moses. The Nigerian wing back unleashed a low, flat-line strike across the face of goal which would have found the inside netting if not for Foster’s fingertips at full stretch.
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The deluge of Chelsea chances continued five minutes later, as Eden Hazard raced past Jonny Evans inside the penalty area and cut the ball back toward Pedro atop the six-yard box. Craig Dawson intervened and cut out the cross but redirected it toward his own goal which Foster had long since vacated. If not for Claudio Yacob‘s clearance off the line, an own goal might have clinched the title.
Rondon threatened, again on the counter, in the 70th minute. For the first time in months, a scenario in which Chelsea might not win the title seemed to have presented itself as the Venezuelan raced past Chelsea’s backline before skying his effort well over the crossbar. Two minutes later, another West Brom counter presented Nacer Chadli a chance to help his former club, Tottenham, but the Belgian’s low, driven shot went just wide of Thibaut Courtois‘ right-hand post.
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Michy Batshuayi broke the deadlock in the 82nd minute, when Cesar Azpilicueta’s cross found the Belgian striker inside the six-yard box. Batshuayi finish came from the slightest of touches, and Foster so nearly made the save, but the ball bounced underneath him and into the back of the net.