El principio del tiempo / English / Hazard scores, avoids West Ham fan as Chelsea extends lead

Hazard scores, avoids West Ham fan as Chelsea extends lead

LONDON (AP) — Chelsea took a confident step closer to the Premier League title with goals from Eden Hazard and Diego Costa enough to sweep aside London rivals West Ham 2-1 Monday.

The result lifts Chelsea 10 points clear of second-placed Tottenham, with 11 games left.

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte celebrated with away fans at the end of the match as they sang “we’re going to win the league.” The 47-year-old Italian is on course to win the title in his maiden season in English football.

“Up until now we have deserved to stay at the top of the table,” Conte said. “But this league is tough until the end. It won’t be easy. My players are showing me great commitment not only during the games, but during the week to work hard and to improve. I trust them.”

After dominating the league leaders in the first quarter at the London Stadium, West Ham was stung by a blistering counter-attack set up by N’Golo Kante’s intercept.

Chelsea’s Hazard and Pedro then combined to devastating effect. Belgium midfielder Hazard surged forward from a blistering counter-attack and was on the end of a decisive one-two to score the opener in the 25th minute.

As Hazard slid to his knees to celebrate, a West Ham fan rushed onto the pitch toward the player, but stewards managed to intervene in time.

Costa netted the second in the 50th as West Ham midfielder Pedro Obiang flicked Cesc Fabregas’ corner straight to the Spain striker who gratefully nudged in from close range.

Chelsea players celebrate a goal as security escort a spectator from the pitch during the English Premier League soccer match between West Ham and Chelsea at London Stadium, Monday, March 6, 2017. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
Chelsea players celebrate a goal as security escort a spectator from the pitch during the English Premier League soccer match between West Ham and Chelsea at London Stadium, Monday, March 6, 2017. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

It was Costa’s 17th league goal this season.

Manuel Lanzini notched midtable West Ham’s consolation goal in second-half injury time as West Ham fought to the end.

Lone striker Andy Carroll, returning from a groin injury, battled with a Chelsea defense which remained disciplined and resolute.

West Ham manager Slaven Bilic said his team conceded cheap goals but praised Chelsea’s performance.

“They look very serious and I can seem them staying on top with quality they have … and most of all how physically in good shape they are,” Bilic said.

Third-placed Manchester City is 11 points behind Chelsea but has a game in hand.

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FOTO: Imago7/ Etzel Espinosa

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