Chelsea moved to within two wins of reclaiming the Premier League title after Eden Hazard’s goal gave them a narrow victory over Manchester United at Stamford Bridge.
Hazard’s first-half finish gave Jose Mourinho’s side three points and means that victory in forthcoming games at Arsenal and Leicester City will return the title to Stamford Bridge for the first time since 2010.
Chelsea were pushed all the way by a resurgent United, hunting a seventh successive Premier League victory.
Wayne Rooney and the recalled Radamel Falcao came closest for United but once again they fell victim to the resilience and defensive strength that is Chelsea’s trademark under Mourinho, assisted by the brilliance of Hazard, and ended frustrated.
The reaction of Chelsea’s players as referee Mike Dean sounded the final whistle, celebrating wildly in front of their supporters, suggested they believed this was the victory that has pushed them to the brink of glory, as they moved 10 points ahead of second-placed Arsenal.
And now, even if they do not wrap it up in these next two games, surely nothing can stop Mourinho winning the title in his second season after coming back to Stamford Bridge.
As for United, this defeat may have ended their recent winning streak but they once again produced compelling evidence that they are now a very different proposition from the side that struggled, even though they were grinding out results, earlier this season.