A superb Marcos Alonso free-kick in the second half put the seal on a second Chelsea win this week, with Eden Hazard also on target as the seven-point lead was maintained.
An own-goal, the second by Bournemouth against Chelsea this season, opened the scoring in the first half and a typical Hazard breakaway put the Blues firmly in the driving seat after a slowish start, but Bournemouth's attacking threat is well-known and having first hit the post, they halved the deficit shortly before half-time through Josh King.
Antonio Conte’s side held its nerve however in a very open and enthralling second half with Alonso making the points safe midway through.
There was plenty of talk of the pressure being on the Blues with Tottenham having won well in the lunchtime game but one of our four remaining away games was successfully negotiated. Five wins are now needed from seven matches left.
The Blues were able to welcome back Victor Moses after two games out and the Nigerian proved an important addition to the team, playing a part in the goal that got his side going in this south coast encounter.
It was Bournemouth who looked the sharper side in the opening exchanges, indeed Thibaut Courtois had to show fantastic reactions to keep the ball out of the Chelsea net in the very first minute; that was after David Luiz’s outstretched leg diverted the dangerous Ryan Fraser’s whipped-in cross goalwards.
Moses then earned himself an early booking for handball out on the flanks having stumbled when hotly pursued inside our half.
There was better from the Blues on 10 minutes when Moses was found in space to fire over a cross. It was only partially cleared and Alonso’s volley would have tested Artur Boruc in the Cherries goal had it not been for an Adam Smith block.
A ball behind Gary Cahill gave Fraser a run on goal and we could well have gone behind but faced with David Luiz and Courtois, he fluffed his lines and sliced wide. A minute later the Londoners were ahead, and after a further three played we were 2-0 up.
Moses had looked the most likely supply line so far and found by a long David Luiz pass, rather than cross this time he passed infield to Diego Costa who back to goal swivelled, attempted a shot left-footed and had the extra help of a big deflection off Smith to beat Boruc. Smith's defensive colleague Steve Cook had been the player credited with an own-goal at Stamford Bridge at Christmas when he deflected a Pedro shot.
How quickly today’s game swung firmly in Chelsea’s favour. With the next serious attack we were two ahead through Hazard. Kante crafted a counter-attack with a lovely long pass and the Belgian had judged his run. There was still plenty to do as he raced forward but in similar fashion to the game at West Ham but on the other side of goal, he moved wide first before, having kept his feet in a momentary stumble, scoring his 14th of the season with a low drive.
There was more defending to do for the Blues after that with flying blocks made and an important pushing out of a cross by Courtois.
Just before the half-hour, Benik Afobe with a superb volley was very unfortunate to see it smash back off the frame of the Chelsea goal with a thud audible anywhere in the stadium.
Diego Costa on the run had a low shot deflected for a corner, which led to another corner, which was played deep to unmarked Pedro but his shot was saved. Then Moses with a stooping header was off-target. Hazard, making his presence felt frequently, had chipped the ball to the wing-back.
Harry Arter was booked in the 38th minutes for upending Diego Costa on halfway but four minutes later the home side struck back with an excellent goal. It took two well-played passes to move the ball from inside our half into the run of the in-form King and he was unerring, drilling the ball into the top corner of our net via a deflection for his 10th goal in his past 11 league appearances. 2-1 to Chelsea was the half-time score.
Fraser fired worryingly wide early in the second half and again the home side got into gear quicker. Pedro and Hazard were sharp enough to almost carve out a chance for Diego Costa in front of goal and then our centre-forward could not make the touch he wanted when Alonso crossed low. It was not quite falling for our leading scorer as he sought his 50th goal for the club.
Bournemouth’s determination to play out from the back was giving Chelsea chances to snatch the ball. It was from inside our own half however that Diego Costa did very well to win the possession that ultimately led to his side making it 3-1. The move continued until he was fouled 25 yards out.
David Luiz stood aside at the free-kick for Marcos Alonso to use his left-foot, which he did to perfection – up and over the wall and down under the bar. It was a brilliant set-piece strike with a quarter of the game left to play. The Spaniard’s name was sung in celebration by the Chelsea support for most of the next five minutes.
Moses on his impressive return could have put the result even further beyond doubt after he and Pedro skilfully carved a hole in the Cherries defence but Boruc saved very well. The goal would not be needed as the Blues go marching on. Next up, Manchester United at Old Trafford on Easter Sunday.
- Match stats:
Chelsea (3-4-3): Courtois; Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Cahill (c); Moses (Zouma 90+2), Kante, Matic, Alonso; Pedro (Willian 87), Diego Costa, Hazard (Fabregas 84)
Unused subs Begovic, Terry, Chalobah, Batshuayi.
Scorers Smith o.g. 17, Hazard 20, Alonso 68.
Booked Moses 8, Kante 58, Pedro 74
Bournemouth (4-4-2): Boruc; A Smith, Francis (c), Cook, Daniels; Fraser (Gradel 84), Arter, Wilshere, Pugh (Ibe 71); Afobe (Mousset 77), King.
Unused subs Allsop, B Smith, L Cook, Cargill.
Scorer King 42
Booked Arter 38, Gradel 90
Referee Andre Marriner
- Match report by chelseafc.com
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