By Martyn Herman
Chelsea ran riot at Swansea City, scoring four times before halftime on the way to a 5-0 win that sent Jose Mourinho’s side five points clear in the Premier League on Saturday.
Brazil midfielder Oscar and Spain striker Diego Costa scored two apiece inside the opening 36 minutes as Swansea were torn to shreds. Substitute Andre Schuerrle got his name on the scoresheet late in a more even second half.
“It was very good, we hit the post twice and could have got even more,” Mourinho, who will be hoping Arsenal can take points off second-placed champions Manchester City on Sunday, told Sky Sports.
Manchester United climbed above Southampton into third spot, 12 points behind Chelsea, with second-half substitutes Marouane Fellaini and James Wilson on target in a 2-0 win at second-bottom Queens Park Rangers.
Southampton are away at Newcastle United later on Saturday.
Christian Eriksen struck a late winner to give Tottenham Hotspur a seventh 2-1 league victory of the season, at home to Sunderland, and lift them above Arsenal.
Seventh-placed Liverpool’s push for a top-four finish gathered momentum when Fabio Borini and Rickie Lambert scored in a 2-0 victory at Aston Villa who have now gone five league games without a goal.
Crystal Palace recovered from 2-0 down to snatch a vital 3-2 win at fellow strugglers Burnley, their second consecutive victory since Alan Pardew took charge taking them up to 12th.
Bottom club Leicester City’s recent burst of form which had earned them seven points from three games was halted by 1-0 home loss to Stoke City, Spaniard Bojan Krkic scoring the winner.
Swansea have proved tough opponents in south Wales since joining the Premier League in 2011 and had only suffered two home defeats this season, but they were no match for a rampant Chelsea side who oozed class.
From the moment Oscar ruthlessly punished an errant pass by Gylfi Sigurdsson in the home defence to put Chelsea ahead in the first minute the writing was on the wall for the hosts.
A slick one-touch passing move ended with Costa making it 2-0 after 20 minutes and the Spaniard made it 3-0 following more dozy Swansea defending.
Oscar’s second, a cheeky dink over busy Swans keeper Lukasz Fabianski, was followed quickly by Willian striking the crossbar as Chelsea threatened to run up a rugby score.
The fizz went out of the visitors in the second half and they had to be content with just one more goal when Schuerrle got the final touch to deny Oscar a hat-trick.
Mourinho has been tetchy lately, but offered sympathy to his Swansea counterpart Gary Monk.
“There are matches that go away from our control and as managers we can’t do much,” he said.
“I can understand that he was frustrated but the only thing I can say is that it’s better to lose one match 5-0 than to lose five games 1-0.”