Chelsea sets winning record, beats Bournemouth 3-0

December 26, 2016
Chelsea's Pedro, right, scores his side's third goal of the game during the English Premier League soccer match between Chelsea and Bournemouth at Stamford Bridge stadium in London, Monday, Dec. 26, 2016.(AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

LONDON (AP) — Chelsea set a club record of 12 straight English Premier League wins as it beat Bournemouth 3-0 on Monday.

Two goals from Pedro and Eden Hazard’s penalty kick ensured Antonio Conte’s side bettered a run of 11 victories set over two seasons in 2009, beginning in April under Guus Hiddink and ending in September under Carlo Ancelotti.

Only once — Arsenal in 2001-02 with 13 straight wins — has a top-tier club had a longer winning streak in one season since World War II.

Hazard starred in the absence of suspended duo N’Golo Kante and Diego Costa as the league leaders recorded their 10th clean sheet of the 12-match winning run.

“Today we sent a good message because I think a lot of people thought that, without two really important players, we could lose points,” Conte said. “But it didn’t happen and I’m pleased with this because I can count on all my players in the squad.”

As for Hazard, Conte said: “It’s fantastic for me to see the great job (he) is doing with the ball, but also without the ball.”

Chelsea leads second-placed Manchester City by seven points, while Bournemouth slipped to 13th.

“I thought the decisive moment was the second goal (the penalty) and how that went against us was the key moment of the game,” Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe said. “I thought (Hazard) was outstanding today — his movement and ability to turn on the ball so quickly.”

The hosts struggled to create chances early on but, after a moment of magic from Pedro unlocked the Bournemouth defense in the 24th, the Blues didn’t look back.

Hazard and the recalled Cesc Fabregas combined to find Pedro on the edge of the Bournemouth box, before he created space and curled a precise left-footed effort into the top corner.

Jack Wilshere, on loan from Arsenal, had Bournemouth’s two best chances to level at Stamford Bridge as he was first denied by Chelsea ’keeper Thibaut Courtois, before Cesar Azpilicueta crucially blocked Wilshere’s volley after a poor clearance from Marcos Alonso.

Fabregas almost doubled the lead 10 minutes before halftime as his free kick landed on the roof of the net with Bournemouth goalkeeper Artur Boruc beaten.

Thriving as he deputized in a center forward position, Hazard all but ended the match in the 49th, winning a penalty after beating Bournemouth captain Simon Francis.

Hazard coolly deceived Boruc as he rolled his penalty into the right corner to score his 50th Premier League goal.

As Chelsea wasted numerous chances to extend its lead, Courtois once more displayed his importance as he foiled Benik Afobe after Wilshere had played the second-half substitute through on goal.

The Blues finally added a deserved third in stoppage time as Pedro picked the ball up in the center circle before driving at the Bournemouth defense and firing past Boruc via a significant deflection off Steve Cook.

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