Diego Costa, Oscar steer Chelsea to crushing win against Swansea City
Chelsea sent out an emphatic Barclays Premier League title warning as Jose Mourinho’s side stunned Swansea by winning 5-0 at the Liberty Stadium.
Oscar and Diego Costa both scored twice inside the first 36 minutes as leaders Chelsea opened up a five-point gap on nearest challengers Manchester City, who welcome Arsenal to the Etihad Stadium on Sunday, and substitute Andre Schurrle completed the rout late on as Swansea suffered their worst home defeat for 24 years.
Mourinho might currently be facing a Football Association charge for claiming there is a ‘campaign’ to influence referees’ decisions against Chelsea, but he did not have to worry about the officials on this occasion as his team swatted aside Swansea, who were off the pace from the first minute.
Swansea had sold top goalscorer Wilfried Bony to Chelsea’s title rivals Manchester City in midweek and there was a disjointed look about the hosts with Leon Britton, Ki Sung-yueng and Jonjo Shelvey all missing from their midfield for differing reasons.
Gylfi Sigurdsson was dropped into a deeper role with Portuguese striker Nelson Oliveira handed his first start following his loan move from Benfica, but the formation did not seem to suit Sigurdsson as he gave away possession in the opening minute.
Oscar strode forward with purpose and lashed home a 20-yard shot which flew past Lukasz Fabianski in the Swansea goal and was officially timed at 49 seconds.
Sigurdsson almost equalised immediately with a 25-yarder which hit the outside of the post but the Chelsea midfield were running the show and Oscar might have had a hat-trick before the 20-minute mark, the Brazilian forcing Fabianski to push out a swerving shot and then dragging another effort wide.
Fabianski saved from Eden Hazard before Chelsea cut through again with a move of stunning simplicity after 20 minutes, Willian and Oscar involved before Cesc Fabregas slipped in Diego Costa – the Spaniard’s 15th league assist of the season.
Costa blazed over another opening moments later and there was brief respite for Swansea when Bafetimbi Gomis tried his luck from distance.
Chelsea almost had another when Willian smashed against the post but the third goal arrived after 34 minutes when Federico Fernandez’s dreadful pass gave Costa the simplest of opportunities to tuck away his 17th league goal of the season.
Two minutes later and it was number four as Willian scampered through the middle to find Costa and his cut-back allowed Oscar to finish with ease.
It almost got worse for Swansea just before the break as Costa broke the offside trap and rounded Fabianski. The angle was tight so he pulled it back to Willian who hit the woodwork for a second time when his shot smashed against the crossbar.
Swansea attempted to inject some energy into their game at the start of the second half but Chelsea remained resolute at the back and Hazard skated past Dwight Tiendalli to set up a shooting chance for Fabregas which was weakly directed at Fabianski.
Oliveira had been one of the brightest Swansea players and he tried two long-range efforts before being replaced by Jay Fulton after 66 minutes, the move allowing Sigurdsson to push forward into his more natural attacking position behind Gomis.
But Chelsea were still determined to go in search of a fifth goal and Hazard’s 20-yard drive brought a fine full-length save from Fabianski before Oscar came within of completing his hat-trick from the same distance.
They were not to be denied, however, and Schurrle had the simplest task to tap Branislav Ivanovic’s cross into an empty net 11 minutes from time and condemn Swansea to their biggest home defeat since a 6-1 loss to Wigan in April 1991.