Champions Chelsea set a Premier League record by winning their 30th game in a season after beating already relegated Sunderland 5-1 at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
Willian, Eden Hazard and Pedro scored to cancel out Javier Manquillo’s opener in skipper John Terry’s last match for the Blues before substitute Michy Batshuayi bagged a brace in stoppage time.
Terry started but left the pitch to a guard of honour on 26 minutes in a planned show of appreciation for his many years of service.
Captain Terry, who wore the No. 26 jersey, was handed a start in his last game for the Blues, but the rest of the champions’ starting XI retained a familiar look. The only notable changes were Cesc Fabregas coming in for Nemanja Matic in midfield and Willian replacing Pedro on the flanks up front.
Sunderland’s big team news saw star striker Jermain Defoe miss out, per the club:
Sunderland confirmed via their Twitter account how Defoe missed out due to a hamstring problem.
Amazingly, the Black Cats crashed the party on three minutes when Sebastian Larsson’s free-kick rebounded for full-back Manquillo, who took a touch and hammered it in.
While the goal meant little in the broader context of the table, Simon Johnson of the London Evening Standard revealed how conceding might have damaged Thibaut Courtois’ chances of a personal award.
Courtois may have been fuming, but Chelsea’s attacking players made sure they were behind for just five minutes. The equaliser came from Willian when the Brazilian converted from close after a Marcos Alonso free-kick had cracked the bar.
Willian’s finish proved to be a landmark one in England’s top flight for Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, according to Sky Sports Statto.
Back on level terms, Chelsea turned up the pressure, with Diego Costa missing chances either side of Alonso, forcing Sunderland goalkeeper Jordan Pickford into a smart save.
Terry’s sending-off came to an end on 26 minutes as the longtime skipper made way for Gary Cahill in a planned switch.
Sunderland held out until the break and started the second half brightly, with Jack Rodwell forcing Courtois into an excellent save. However, Chelsea survived the rare scare and soon made their superior quality count.
Hazard put the Blues ahead just after the hour mark after a typically astute exchange of passes with Costa. The Belgian winger finished emphatically with his left foot.
It’s been an exceptional season for Hazard, who has made the most of home comforts, per Sky Sports Statto.
The points and a record-breaking 30th win were made safe when substitute Pedro bundled the ball over after competing with Joleon Lescott. BBC Match of the Day confirmed Chelsea’s setting the league record [30 wins].
Batshuayi’s double put the flourish on an outstanding season for the champions.
Winning 30 matches confirms Chelsea as the class of the division and worthy champions this season. Now, manager Antonio Conte can focus on sustaining success in a new era for the Blues post-Terry.
Source: James Dudko, BR