For the second time in three years, Chelsea rules the Premier League. On Friday, the London-based team clinched the title with a 1-0 win over West Bromwich, but not without controversy.
With the score tied 0-0 still late in the first half, Chelsea fans cried foul when the referee failed to call a handball after West Brom’s Jonny Evans used his left hand to win the ball for which he and Chelsea star Cesc Febregas had been vying.
The infraction wouldn’t go on to make a difference in the game’s outcome, however, thanks to Michy Batshuayi, who came on for Chelsea’s star forward Eden Hazard late in the second half. Batshuayi’s teammate Cesar Azpilicueta came through first with an impressive assist.
— Ben scarborough (@Benscarborough7) May 12, 2017
Batshuayi wound up an unlikely hero, having played a total of just 127 minutes this season so far, according to Squawka. The Belgian national has been remarkably efficient within that short window, however, having scored twice, including his title-clinching shot on Friday.
“It’s the best moment in my football career,” Batshuayi said after the match, according to Belgian journalist Kristof Terreur.
While Batshuayi soaks up the excitement on Friday, many more are crediting Chelsea Manager Antonio Conte for whipping the team into shape after a sorry 2015-16 season that saw Chelsea place a disappointing 10th.
“The changes Conte has made to change their season around can’t be underestimated,” former England midfielder Jermaine Jenas told the BBC on Friday. “When their backs have been against the wall tonight, they defended well. This game typified Chelsea’s season. How many winners they have in their team makes them special. But tactically, individually, what Conte has done with these players and to bring them together is sensational.”
Conte didn’t hold back his joy when Batshuayi sent the title-clinching goal in, celebrating wildly on the sidelines with some of Chelsea’s staff.
Michy Batshuayi winner ✔
Azplicueta assist ✔
Clean sheet ✔
Title achieved ✔
— Elvis Tunde⚓ (@Tunnyking) May 12, 2017
With two games now left in the season, Chelsea will basically be on an extended victory lap. Win or lose, the team can’t be caught in the Premier League rankings, where it sits atop the leader board with 87 points. Chelsea’s closest competitor this season, Tottenham, is in second with 77 points.
With its sixth top-flight title and fifth in the Premier League era, Chelsea is the second-winningest team in English soccer history, per the BBC. Manchester United remains the winningest, with a whopping 13 Premier League titles.
This post was updated to correct an error about the winningest Premier League team in history.