After 45 minutes of monotony, Chelsea emerged victorious by keeping their heads. Quite literally.
What a Boxing Day bore this was until Alvaro Morata planted his header past Brighton goalkeeper Mat Ryan to settle the anxiety that was manifesting at Stamford Bridge.
Marcos Alonso followed his countryman’s example, notching with this own header to ensure Chelsea could canter to all three points.
In the end this was convincing from the champions. Barring the most spectacular of capitulations from Manchester City, this three three points will prove inconsequential in the title race.
But credit to Chelsea, they aren’t gift-wrapping or hand delivering their Premier League trophy over to City.
However, it took them a while to get going against Chris Hughton’s well-organised team. The first-half was all very low-key. Subdued on the pitch; certainly restrained, almost solemn, in the stands.
Cesc Fabregas tried to cajole Chelsea out of their Boxing Day malaise; the Spaniard at the centre of the Blues best work during a 45 minutes to forget.
MATCH FACTS AND STATS
CHELSEA (3-5-2): Courtois 6; Azpilicueta 7.5, Cahill 6.5, Rudiger 7; Moses 7.5, Fabregas 8, Kante 7.5 (Drinkwater 85), Bakayoko 7, Alonso 7.5; Hazard 7.5 (Willian 73, 6.5), Morata 7.5 (Batshuayi 82)
Subs not used: Caballero, Pedro, Zappacosta, Ampadu.
Manager: Conte 7
BRIGHTON (4-2-3-1): Ryan 6.5; Schelotto 6, Duffy 6.5, Dunk 7, Suttner 6; Stephens 6, Propper 6; March 6 (Knockaert 82), Kayal 5 (Gross 73), Izquieredo 6; Hemed 5.5. (Murray 80) S
Subs not used: Krul, Bruno, Baldock, Goldson. Booked: Stephens
Manager: Hughton 6
Referee: Mike Dean 6.5