An entirely dominant performance with goals from Diego Costa, Marcos Alonso and Nemanja Matic means the Blues require just one more win to be crowned champions of England for a sixth time.
It is for showings such as the one Stamford Bridge reveled in tonight that we head into the final three games of the season seven points clear at the top of the Premier League table. Our well-beaten opponents Middlesbrough are relegated as a result. The gulf between the teams could not have been more apparent.
Diego Costa got us off and running with his 20th league goal of the campaign and the continually dangerous Alonso doubled our lead before the break. Matic sealed the result with a goal of his own and though many other chances were not taken, this was a very enjoyable evening indeed.
A win at West Brom on Friday night would do it!
A minor muscular problem ruled N’Golo Kante out on the day he was named the Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year, his second major individual accolade in as many weeks.
That meant a central midfield pairing of Cesc Fabregas and Matic. David Luiz was fit enough to line up behind them, having limped off against Everton, while a fellow defender, Cesar Azpilicueta, made his 150th Premier League start for the club.
Boro boss Steve Agnew included Adama Traore in his line-up knowing anything but a win would condemn them to Championship football next season.
Inside 90 seconds that outcome almost started to look likely when Alonso thundered a volley goalwards at the end of a slick passing move, Fabregas the eventual architect. Alonso’s technique was excellent, but Guzan did just enough to touch it down into the ground and back up on to the bar and away.
The same man had our second effort of the evening from a similar position soon after, but this time on the ground. He dragged it across goal.
An easily-cleared Boro corner was about as good as it got for the visitors in the opening stages as Chelsea swarmed forward with an impressive intensity. On 17 minutes, Eden Hazard teed up Fabregas in space on the edge of the box. He placed his shot well wide.
Hazard, again breaking from deep, balletically controlled another probing long ball and rolled the ball through Fabio’s legs and past Guzan. Diego Costa on the stretch couldn’t quite turn it home, though he felt George Friend had illegally halted him in his tracks.
Either way, the striker didn’t have long to wait before breaking the deadlock.
Once more it was a diagonal pass from Fabregas in behind Boro’s backline causing the problems. Fabio tried to divert the ball away from the danger zone but only succeeded in kicking it at Diego Costa, who controlled and neatly rolled his shot through Guzan’s legs.
Ten minutes later it was two. Boro clearly hadn’t heeded the warning, for there was a sense of déjà vu about it. This time it was Azpilicueta curling the ball in from right from the left; and this time Alonso was the man in plenty of space. Despite the angle not favouring him, the ferocity of the strike was too much for Guzan, who could only help it on its way in.
‘We’re gonna win the league’ rang around the Bridge as Chelsea threatened to run riot. Another perfect long ball from Fabregas found Victor Moses, who chested it into his path and forced a decent low stop from Guzan. Alonso curled a free-kick a fraction over before the half was out and so it was with an emphatic two-goal advantage Conte and his men headed into the dressing rooms.
The pattern continued as soon as play restarted. Hazard burst down the left and squared to Pedro, 20 yards out. He hit across the ball and watched as it flew past Guzan and clipped the top of the bar.
Alonso and Diego Costa then nearly combined for goal number three, the former’s cross-shot hit agonisingly beyond the post and the stretching Spain striker.
The confidence flowing through those in blue was further evidenced when Gary Cahill had a pop from a good 30 yards out. Guzan had to punch away and from a corner soon after, the captain headed wide. Between those efforts a Fabregas strike deflected an inch or two past the wrongfooted Guzan’s left-hand post.
But the keeper was picking the ball out of his net for a third time on 65 minutes. Hazard teased and toyed cutting in from the right, and passed to David Luiz who found Fabregas. His outside-of-the-boot cross was chested down by Matic and then thudded through Guzan’s legs. It was a fine way for the Serbian to open his Premier League account for the season, and once again it was Fabregas, the game's outstanding player, with the assist.
Hazard made way for Willian and another winger, Pedro, fired over on his left in search of goal number four. Moses hit Guzan with a good attempt, and at the other end a rare Boro attack was ended by a fine defensive header from Cahill as former Chelsea youngster and substitute tonight Patrick Bamford attacked the ball with force.
There were some minutes on the pitch late on for two Academy graduates at different ends of their careers, Nathaniel Chalobah and John Terry.
The latter in particular was welcomed with a thunderous roar and the same noise greeted the final whistle as our 300th Premier League home victory brought another triumph in the competition into ever closer focus.
Chelsea (3-4-3): Courtois; Azpilicueta, David Luiz (Terry 84), Cahill (c); Moses, Fabregas, Matic, Alonso; Pedro (Chalobah 81), Diego Costa, Hazard (Willian 71).
Unused subs Begovic, Zouma, Ake, Loftus-Cheek.
Scorers Diego Costa 23, Marcos Alonso 34, Matic 65
Middlesbrough (4-3-3): Guzan, Fabio, Chambers, Gibson (c), Friend, De Roon, Clayton, Forshaw (Leadbitter 57), Traore (Bamford 57), Negredo (Gestede 83), Downing.
Unused subs Konstantopoulos, Barragan, Bernardo, Guedioura.
Booked Fabio 60, Bamford 89
Referee Craig Pawson