Chelsea responded perfectly to head coach Antonio Conte’s claim their Premier League title hopes are over with a convincing 3-1 win at Huddersfield Town on Tuesday.
Tiemoue Bakayoko opened the scoring midway through the first half with a deft clipped finish, offering an answer to supporters who have criticised him for a series of poor performances following his July move from Monaco.
Willian headed in a second goal shortly before half-time and Pedro made it three to leave Chelsea level on points with second-place Manchester United, who host Bournemouth on Wednesday.
“A good win,” Conte told BT Sport. “From the start we played good football.”
Upwardly mobile Burnley are one place below Chelsea in fourth after edging Stoke City 1-0, while Crystal Palace hauled themselves off the foot of the table with two late goals in a dramatic 2-1 defeat of Watford.
Conte, who has cut an increasingly grumpy figure this season, said after Chelsea’s surprise 1-0 defeat at West Ham United that his side had no chance of catching leaders Manchester City in the title race.
For Chelsea’s fourth game of nine in a packed December, Conte was without his 10-goal top scorer Alvaro Morata because of a bad back, but Eden Hazard shone as a false nine and was ably supported by Willian and Pedro.“I have decided for this solution,” said the Chelsea manager.
“It’s not the first time to play with these type of players — Hazard, Willian, Pedro. I think they are very good technically. They are very fast. They played very well.”
The visitors thought they had made the breakthrough in the sixth minute, but Pedro was just offside as he ran clear to slot in Willian’s pass.
But Chelsea made their superiority count as they took the lead midway through the first half.
Goalkeeper Jonas Lossl slipped as he cleared the ball and Victor Moses’s header was touched on stylishly by Hazard to Willian.