REUTERS - Cesc Fabregas kept alive Chelsea’s hopes of finishing in the top four with a quick fire goal in a 1-0 win at Swansea City which leaves the Welsh side facing a major fight to retain their Premier League status.
Antonio Conte’s side are now just two points behind Tottenham Hotspur in fourth place, albeit having played a game more, as they battle to secure a place in next season’s Champions League.
Fabregas scored the only goal of the game after just four minutes when Eden Hazard capitalised on a mistake from Andy King and fed the ball to the Spaniard. The midfielder then curled a first-time shot past Lukasz Fabianski into the roof of the net for his 50th Premier League goal.
Swansea had chances to equalise but Andre Ayew and Tom Carroll fired wide of the post. Defeat leaves the club just one point above the bottom three with three games left to play.
Conte’s side refused to sit back after Fabregas’ early strike and could have had their lead doubled on 21 minutes by Swansea defender Alfie Mawson when his attempted clearance looped over Fabianski and struck the top of the crossbar.
Chelsea came close again after the hour mark when Cesar Azpilicueta crossed in for Hazard who was completely unmarked inside the penalty area but directed his header straight at the Swansea keeper.
The hosts were riding their luck and Chelsea’s Victor Moses somehow managed to slide the ball wide of the post from just a yard out on 73 minutes.
Swansea left it late to rally a comeback and both Ayew and Carroll saw their efforts fall just wide of the post but Chelsea held on to secure all three points.
The former Premier League champions now face a huge home game against Liverpool next Sunday while Swansea will be anxiously looking over their shoulders following relegation rival Southampton’s victory earlier in the day.
Reporting by Marc Isaacs; Editing by Christian Radnedge