Costa Fires Chelsea Back On Top  (Sky Sports)

Chelsea 1 West Bromwich Albion 0

Diego Costa celebratesChelsea reclaimed top spot in the Premier League with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over West Brom at Stamford Bridge.

With the game heading towards a frustrating stalemate, Diego Costa punished a Gareth McAuley error on 76 minutes as the Blues restored their three-point lead over Arsenal at the top of the table.

Costa's 12th goal of the season extended Chelsea's winning streak to nine top-flight games as Antonio Conte's men further underlined their status as title favourites.

It will have a been a difficult result for West Brom to swallow who, having limited Chelsea to a single shot on target before Costa's goal, slipped to a first defeat in five to leave them eighth in the Premier League.

Antonio Conte made one change from last weekend's victory at Manchester City, replacing Cesc Fabregas with Nemanja Matic, while Tony Pulis named an unchanged side for the fifth game running.

From the offset it was clear the onus was on the Premier League's in-form team to take the game to the Baggies, with the visitors setting Chelsea the task of breaking their defensive unit down.

It was a task the hosts struggled to contend with as West Brom created the first clear opening, Chris Brunt whistling a fierce drive wide on 19 minutes.

Salomon Rondon then went close on 26 minutes, picking David Luiz's pocket on the left before flashing a low effort across the face of goal.

That yielded an immediate response from Chelsea as Pedro deflected N'Golo Kante's wide effort inches wide of Ben Foster's left-hand post.

Having evaded the head of Costa, Eden Hazard's teasing cross on 38 minutes came close to breaking the deadlock as Chelsea tried to finish their hand strongly.

But West Brom were able to keep the hosts at arm's length, Luiz's swerving free-kick the closest they came to scoring, but Foster was a match to the effort.

A series of fouls and booking disrupted the flow of the game in the second half, playing right into the hands of Albion whose game plan thrived in such a climate.

Again it was down to Luiz to threaten the Baggies goal, but he failed to hit the target on 61 minutes.

A frustrating afternoon could have taken a turn for the worse for Chelsea on 67 minutes, but Gary Cahill's instinctive interception stopped Darren Fletcher from firing West Brom ahead.

Then came the game's defining moment as Costa harassed McAuley 14 minutes from time, stole possession on the right, carried it into the Albion area and rifled a clinical shot past Foster.

It was a cruel blow to West Brom after such an assured defensive display, although that will be of little concern to Chelsea as Costa's sheer tenacity cemented their title charge.

Player ratings

Chelsea: Courtois (7), Azpilicueta (6), David Luiz (6), Cahill (9), Moses (7), Kante (7), Matic (6), Alonso (6), Pedro (6), Diego Costa (9), Hazard (7).

Used subs: Ivanovic (4), Fabregas (6), Willian (5).

West Brom: Foster (6), Dawson (5), McAuley (5), Evans (7), Nyom (6), Yacob (6), Fletcher (7), Brunt (6), Morrison (6), Phillips (6), Rondon (7).

Used subs: Robson-Kanu (5), McClean (5).

Man of the Match: Diego Costa

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Chelsea Courtois, Azpilicueta, Luiz, Cahill (c), Moses (Fabregas 73), Matic, Kante, Alonso, Pedro (Willian 62), Costa, Hazard (Ivanovic 78)
Subs Not Used Begovic, Batshuayi, Chalobah, Aina
Booked Kante, Matic
Goals Costa 76

West Bromwich Albion Foster, Dawson, McAuley, Evans, Nyom, Fletcher (c), Yacob, Brunt (Robson-Kanu 83), Morrison (Chadli 77), Phillips (McClean 77), Rondon
Subs Not Used Palmer, Olsson, Gardner, Galloway
Booked Brunt, McAuley, Dawson, Yacob

Attendance 41,622

Referee Mike Dean

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