Chelsea have won the 2016-17 Premier League title courtesy of a hard-fought 1-0 victory over West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns this evening.
Monday night’s win over Middlesbrough left Antonio Conte’s side just one win away from the sixth top-flight crown in their history, and it took until the 82nd minute for them to get the all-important goal as Michy Batshuayi became Chelsea’s unlikely hero.
That was enough to fire them to their second Premier League title in the space of three years, giving them an unassailable 10-point lead over closest challengers Tottenham Hotspur at the top of the table.
Any travelling Chelsea fans expecting a procession towards the title were given a reality check inside the opening 30 seconds when Thibaut Courtois was forced into an early save, tipping Salomon Rondon’s header over the crossbar.
The visitors did soon take control of possession, but they struggled to break down a stubborn West Brom defence, with Pedro squandering his side’s best sights of goal in the opening 20 minutes.
Baggies boss Tony Pulis was fulfilling his promise to make things difficult for the title chasers, with West Brom themselves looking to take another step closer to both a top-half finish and a club-record points tally in the Premier League.
Chelsea’s only shot on target of the first half arrived after 25 minutes, and even that never truly troubled Ben Foster in the West Brom goal as he comfortably scooped up Cesar Azpilicueta’s tame effort.
Cesc Fabregas – who kept his place in the side ahead of fit-again N’Golo Kante following his man-of-the-match performance against Middlesbrough – came as close as anyone to breaking the deadlock in the first half when he drilled a low strike narrowly wide of the far post shortly after the half-hour mark.
The best chance of the first half fell the way of Pedro, but he also fired an effort wide of the far post having created a yard of space for himself just inside the penalty area.
After an underwhelming first half that failed to live up to the expected party atmosphere, Chelsea made a quicker start to the second half and Foster was called into his first testing save within two minutes of the restart when he got down well to tip a Victor Moses drive around the post.
The West Brom keeper was called into action again one minute later, but this time it was a more routine stop as he gathered Diego Costa’s attempted bicycle kick.
The visitors continued to probe for the breakthrough, and Fabregas was the next to come close when his swerving drive flew just wide of the far post after a prolonged spell of pressure from Chelsea.
Conte turned to his bench in a final effort to get the job done on the night, with Hazard and Pedro making way for Willian and Batshuayi.
It was a bold decision from the Italian but, like most of his calls this season it ended up paying off as Batshuayi produced the title-winning goal just eight minutes from time.
There was an element of luck to it as Fabregas’ sliced effort found its way to Azpilicueta, who turned the ball back into the middle for an unmarked Batshuayi to sweep home for just his second Premier League goal of the season.
That proved to be enough as Chelsea saw out the game to wrap up their fifth Premier League title in the past 13 seasons – a tally only Manchester United can match over that period.
Conte, meanwhile, becomes only the fourth manager to win the Premier League title in his first season in English football, while it is also his fourth consecutive league title in club football having steered Juventus to three straight Serie A crowns before leaving to take charge of Italy.
Chelsea could still win the double this term with an FA Cup final against Arsenal to come later this month, but first they will parade the trophy in back-to-back home games against Watford and Sunderland to complete their Premier League campaign.
West Brom, meanwhile, face away fixtures against Manchester City and Swansea City in their final two games of the season as they bid to hang on to a top-half finish.
Get more stuff like this
in your inbox
Subscribe to our mailing list and get interesting stuff and updates to your email inbox.
Thank you for subscribing.
Something went wrong.