London: Chelsea took a confident step closer to the English Premier League title with goals from Eden Hazard and Diego Costa enough to sweep aside London rival West Ham 2-1 Monday.
The result lifts Chelsea 10 points clear of second-placed Tottenham with 11 games left.
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte celebrated with away fans at the end of the match as they sang “we’re going to win the league.” The 47-year-old Italian is on course to win the title in his maiden season in English soccer.
“Up until now we have deserved to stay at the top of the table,” Conte said. “But this league is tough until the end. It won’t be easy. My players are showing me great commitment not only during the games, but during the week to work hard and to improve. I trust them.”
After dominating the league leaders in the first quarter at the London Stadium, West Ham was stung by a blistering counter-attack set up by N’Golo Kante’s intercept.
Chelsea’s Hazard and Pedro then combined to devastating effect. Belgium midfielder Hazard surged forward and was on the end of a decisive one-two to score the opener in the 25th minute.
As Hazard slid to his knees to celebrate, a West Ham fan rushed onto the pitch toward the player, but stewards managed to intervene in time.
Costa netted the second in the 50th as West Ham midfielder Pedro Obiang flicked Cesc Fabregas’ corner straight to the Spain striker who gratefully nudged in from close range. It was Costa’s 17th league goal this season.
Manuel Lanzini notched midtable West Ham’s consolation goal in second-half injury time as West Ham fought to the end.
Lone striker Andy Carroll, returning from a groin injury, battled with a Chelsea defense which remained disciplined and resolute.
West Ham manager Slaven Bilic said his team conceded cheap goals, but praised Chelsea’s performance.
“They look very serious and I can see them staying on top with quality they have … and most of all how physically in good shape they are,” Bilic said.
Sevilla title hopes take hit
MADRID (AP) — Sevilla couldn’t manage more than a 1-1 draw at Alaves on Monday, seeing its title chances take a hit in the Spanish league after both Barcelona and Real Madrid won their weekend games.
The result snapped Sevilla’s four-game winning streak and left it three points behind second-placed Madrid and four points behind leader Barcelona.
Jorge Sampaoli’s team opened with a first-half goal by Wissam Ben Yedder but conceded a 75th-minute equalizer after a mistake by goalkeeper Sergio Rico.
Both teams had great scoring chances the rest of the match at the Mendizorroza Stadium but couldn’t capitalize on them.
It was only the third game without a win for Sevilla in the last 12 league rounds. The other setbacks were a 0-0 draw against Villarreal and a 3-1 loss at Espanyol when it played most of the game with 10 men.
Sevilla couldn’t exploit its opportunities to increase the lead before halftime and Alaves took control in the second half.
“We should have taken advantage of our chances in the first half,” Sampaoli said.
Alaves, which plays Barcelona in the King’s Cup final on May 27, stayed 11th in the 20-team league with 34 points.
A three-time defending champion in the Europa League, Sevilla is in the Round of 16 of the Champions League. It takes a 2-1 lead into the second leg against Leicester on March 14.