Premier League leaders Chelsea took a big step towards clinching the title as three second-half goals saw them overcome Everton at Goodison Park.
Pedro’s 25-yard stunner, Gary Cahill’s close-range finish and Willian’s tap-in kept Antonio Conte’s side four points clear of second-placed Tottenham, who beat Arsenal 2-0 later yesterday.
It means the Blues could drop three points in their remaining four games and still claim a second title in three years, even if Spurs win all of their remaining fixtures.
Chelsea had to be patient, with Pedro’s left-footed, long-range strike not coming until the 66th minute.
Cahill sealed the win when Maarten Stekelenburg parried Eden Hazard’s free-kick onto the onrushing defender, before Willian slotted home from Cesc Fabregas’ cutback.
Everton had started brightly in a game that opened at breakneck speed, with Dominic Calvert-Lewin going closest to scoring when he struck the post from a tight angle.
Manchester City’s draw at Middlesbrough means Ronald Koeman’s side, in seventh, are eight points adrift of the top four with three games left.
This may have been Tottenham’s strongest hope of Chelsea surrendering points in their run-in, with Everton placed higher than any of their four remaining opponents, and three home games on the horizon for the Blues.
It could prove to be the killer blow to Spurs’ spirited challenge, and seems to answer the question of whether Chelsea can handle the growing pressure applied by their London rivals’ nine-game winning run in the league.
The maths are simple for Chelsea – win three more games and they will be Premier League champions for the sixth time.
And the celebrations from Conte and his players at the final whistle suggested the Blues feel they can get over the line in games against Middlesbrough, West Brom, Watford and Sunderland.
Chelsea’s hosts were lacking in creativity, but provided a stubborn and organised test that required the Blues to call on persistence and perseverance – attributes any title-winning side must have.