Diego Costa sealed a 1-0 win for Chelsea over Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium to send Antonio Conte’s side top of the Premier League.
The Spain international turned home his 10th top-flight goal of the season from a corner late in the first half to secure a sixth win and clean sheet in a row for the division’s form side.
Chelsea scored 16 goals in their previous five league games but were kept at arm’s length early on by Aitor Karanka’s disciplined side, with Victor Valdes’ save from Pedro the only opportunity of note.
Boro have held Arsenal and Manchester City to draws this season, but just as belief in their chances of another upset were growing, Costa took full advantage of some poor defending to open the scoring on 41 minutes.
The home side put up a spirited fight in the second half but struggled to carve out clear-cut opportunities, and Chelsea themselves wasted two excellent chances through Pedro and Victor Moses.
Alvaro Negredo was denied by Thibaut Courtois in the closing stages but Chelsea nonetheless cruised through relatively untroubled, as they moved a point clear at the top ahead of City and Liverpool, while Middlesbrough stay 15th with 11 points.