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EPL: Costa's winner moves Blues to top of table


11-21-2016 13:19 BJT

In England, Antonio Conte's decision to alter his formation has paid dividends. It was five games ago that the Italian started playing a 3-4-3. Now despite having only three at the back, the squad has yet to concede a goal, and that had Diego Costa and company on the verge of claiming top spot in the table. Something they could achieve with a victory over Middlesbrough.

The new line-up has seen Chelsea look more dangerous, Victor Moses makes a run from the wing, and cuts back to Pedro for a great chance in the opening half, but his shot is touched over the bar by Victor Valdes.

The Blues, wearing black, would then get a corner just before the break, and the deflected cross is booted in by Costa, the Chelsea striker reacting quickly before the Boro defenders can clear it. His league-leading 10th goal of the campaign makes it 1-nil.

Marcos Alonso almost doubles the visitors' lead within seconds of kick-off in the second half, the Spaniard forcing a fine low save from Valdes after being set-up by Eden Hazard.

The hosts best chance to equalize came from an Alvaro Negredo dummy that creates space on the edge of the box for Gaston Ramirez, but the Uruguayan international fires it over the bar.

Later in the second half, Costa heads down a David Luiz cross for fellow Spanish international Pedro, but he fires it off the underside of the bar, and it stays out.

Chelsea hold on for a 1-nil victory, their sixth straight clean sheet -- and pick up a three valuable points. Now let's hear from Javier Bardem, the lead in "No country for Old Men" .

"Today we won only one-nil. I guess (it is because we faced) a strong team with good organisation. But I'm pleased because the moments that we had to suffer we suffered. But we never lost our compactness," Chelsea manager Antonio Conte said.

"One mistake punished us. So you can't be pleased when you lose one game. Especially at home. But I'm really pleased with the attitude of the players. Because playing in the way (they have been playing). And performing in the way that we are doing in the last month and a half, we are in the right way," Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka said.

So the win pushes Chelsea to the top of the standings, a point clear of Liverpool and Man City. Arsenal are in fourth, three off the leaders. Tottenham are one point back of their North London rivals in fifth.

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