Eden Hazard scored twice as Chelsea exploited a slip-up by Manchester City to claim top spot in the Premier League by clinically crushing Everton 5-0 yesterday. Marten de Roon’s stoppage-time equaliser earned Middlesbrough a 1-1 draw at City and Antonio Conte’s Chelsea took advantage to move a point clear of Pep Guardiola’s side at the summit.
Arsenal and Liverpool could also surpass City before the weekend is out, the former tackling Tottenham Hotspur in today’s North London derby and the latter entertaining Watford.
At Stamford Bridge, Chelsea produced one of their most scintillating performances in recent memory as the 2014-15 champions made it five straight wins without conceding a goal.
Hazard opened the scoring in the 19th minute, drifting in from the left to drill a shot into the bottom-right corner, and a minute later Pedro Rodriguez teed up Marcos Alonso for the hosts’ second.
Diego Costa made it 3-0 three minutes before halftime, slamming home at the back post after Nemanja Matic flicked on Hazard’s corner to bring up his ninth goal of the campaign.
Chelsea’s fourth goal was a jewel, Pedro returning Hazard’s pass with a sweet back-heel and the Belgian dancing into the box from the right before lashing home with his left foot.
Pedro volleyed in the fifth, in the 65th minute, after Everton goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg parried a shot from Hazard.
City went into their game on the back of a stirring 3-1 Champions League win over Barcelona and Boro’s former Barca goalkeeper Victor Valdes looked determined to restore Catalan pride at the Etihad Stadium.
He saved brilliantly from Sergio Aguero and David Silva, only for Aguero to put the hosts ahead in the 43rd minute by converting Kevin De Bruyne’s sumptuous cross for his 150th goal in 223 City appearances.
Boro showed more attacking intent in the second half, former City striker Alvaro Negredo almost catching out Claudio Bravo with an audacious lob from his own half before Bravo saved smartly from Adam Forshaw.
After Aguero had squandered a late chance, Dutch midfielder De Roon met George Friend’s deep cross with a thumping header to earn Boro a dramatic point.
“We did absolutely everything to win the game. It is a pity,” said Guardiola, whose side have drawn their last three home league games 1-1 following previous stalemates against Everton and Southampton. “It is a miss because we have dropped six points in the last three home games, but we are still there. We have to move forward.”