Cesc Fabregas' 50th Premier League goal boosts Chelsea's top-four hopes

Cesc Fabregas' 50th Premier League goal boosts Chelsea's top-four hopes

Chelsea's chase for a top-four Premier League spot gathered pace as Cesc Fabregas scored a landmark goal to deepen Swansea's relegation concerns.

Fabregas struck in the fourth minute on a wet night in south Wales - his 50th Premier League goal and 15th for Chelsea after scoring 35 for former club Arsenal.

Swansea had their opportunities, particularly in the second half, to claim some rewards, but the 1-0 defeat means it is now six games without a win for Carlos Carvalhal's side.

There is also little breathing space for Swansea now in the fight for top-flight safety as Southampton's victory against Bournemouth reduces their advantage to the relegation zone to one point.

Blues boss Antonio Conte patrolled the technical area like a caged tiger throughout and it was easy to see why with so much at stake.

Liverpool's goalless draw at home to Stoke earlier in the day had slightly opened the door to Chelsea as far as qualifying for next season's Champions League was concerned.

A nine-point gap at kick-off was reduced to six, with Chelsea - who are two points adrift of fourth-placed Tottenham - having a game in hand over their Merseyside rivals.

Intriguingly, Chelsea and Liverpool meet at Stamford Bridge next weekend, when the pressure could really be applied on Jurgen Klopp's side.

Swansea's defensive resources had been depleted by the loss of Federico Fernandez and Kyle Bartley to injury.

So Kyle Naughton, the regular right-back, became one of three central defenders and Connor Roberts came in for his first Premier League start.

But that unfamiliarity in the Swansea defence was exposed immediately as Eden Hazard found Fabregas unmarked in the penalty area and the Spaniard curled a delicious shot past Lukasz Fabianski.

With Hazard running the show, Chelsea were in complete command and Victor Moses saw his goal-bound effort blocked by Alfie Mawson before Olivier Giroud failed to divert a header goalwards.

Swansea's anxiety was reflected by Mawson skimming the top of his own crossbar after the ball had ballooned into the air and Giroud had won the header.

Moses joined Andre Ayew in the referee Jonathan Moss' book for scything down Martin Olsson and Swansea mustered their first goal-bound attempt when Ki Sung-yueng sent the resulting free-kick into Thibaut Courtois' midriff.

Swansea had to find a cutting edge after the break and there was optimism when Olsson crossed for Andre Ayew to head over under pressure from Antonio Rudiger.

But it was difficult to lay a glove on a Chelsea defence in which England defender Gary Cahill was given another pre-World Cup opportunity to impress and that was superbly protected by N'Golo Kante.

There was also the danger of a productive Chelsea counter and Fabianski went low to his left to deny wing-back Emerson after one such raid.

Swansea went close when Jordan Ayew headed over as Chelsea struggled to clear a corner and his brother Andre curled just wide as the hosts began to press in the final quarter.

Naughton's half-volley then forced Courtois into action and Cahill had to come to the rescue with a perfectly timed penalty-area challenge on Nathan Dyer.

Chelsea continued to drop deeper in the final minutes, but Swansea's hopes of a point finally evaporated when Tom Carroll fired wide and Courtois thwarted Wayne Routledge.

PA

More on this topic

Southgate may pay for making ‘Saipan-lite’ publicSouthgate may pay for making ‘Saipan-lite’ public

Silva banned for Mendy tweet but City forward ‘did not intend’ to be racistSilva banned for Mendy tweet but City forward ‘did not intend’ to be racist

Mick McCarthy names Ireland team ahead of tomorrow's friendly against New ZealandMick McCarthy names Ireland team ahead of tomorrow's friendly against New Zealand

West Ham defender Winston Reid to return from lengthy lay-off for New ZealandWest Ham defender Winston Reid to return from lengthy lay-off for New Zealand

More in this Section

How have Leicester got things so right this season?How have Leicester got things so right this season?

Football rumours from the mediaFootball rumours from the media

World Para Athletics Championships: Waiting game pays off for Niamh McCarthy in DubaiWorld Para Athletics Championships: Waiting game pays off for Niamh McCarthy in Dubai

Keena’s heart for Ireland causeKeena’s heart for Ireland cause


Lifestyle

Aileen Lee meets Christina Kenny - co-founder and design director of Lamb Design - to talk about her work and inspirations.Christina Kenny of Lamb Design: ‘I love bringing the outside in and inside out’

Tyrone designer Sharon Wauchob on her career and the worth of luxury fastion. By Paul McLachen.From Marc Jacobs to her own label, Tyrone designer Sharon Wauchob on her life in fashion

The recent sentencing of two teenage boys for the murder of Ana Kriégel has once again brought the issue of pornography into public discourse. The details of the case, which are finally coming into public knowledge, illuminate some very worrying trends that are pervasive in the modern adolescent world and as parents and indeed as a society we can no longer languish in complacency.Learning Points: Hardcore porn can pollute our children’s minds

If children are confident in interacting with others it takes away so much stress and social anxiety for them. Not too long ago, my daughter Joan and I were out with friends at a restaurant and we wanted extra water and a few other bits and Joan volunteered to go up and ask the waiter for them. My friend was really surprised at this and said that none of her children would willingly do that.Mum’s the word: We should look for chances to strengthen our kids’ social skills

More From The Irish Examiner