Chelsea overwhelmed Crystal Palace 3-0 in the Premier League on Sunday to give interim manager Guus Hiddink his first victory, while Tottenham Hotspur drew 1-1 at Everton.
Oscar, Willian and Diego Costa scored the goals at a sodden Selhurst Park as champions Chelsea recorded their first win since Hiddink took charge following the sacking of Jose Mourinho.
It was their first win away from home since a 3-2 victory at West Bromwich Albion on August 23 and elevated them to 14th place in the table, six points above the relegation zone.
“The very talented players, they start working also, to invest in the dirty work and not just the beautiful game they can play, because this league is very demanding,” said Hiddink, who is managing Chelsea in an interim capacity for the second time.
“And if you think you can do it just on your quality, what’s more given by talent than nature, then this league will kill you.”
Chelsea lost Eden Hazard to a groin problem in the early stages, but took the lead in the 29th minute when Costa cut the ball back for Oscar to sweep home.
Willian made it 2-0 on the hour, crashing a superb shot into the top-right corner from outside the box, and six minutes later he teed up Costa to tap in his third goal in two matches.
Chelsea are now unbeaten in four league games since Mourinho’s sacking — their longest run since last season — and captain John Terry credited Hiddink for lifting the mood at the club.
“This was the Chelsea of last year,” Terry told Sky Sports.
“Guus has been great since he has come in. It was unfortunate what happened, but he has come in and picked everyone up.
“We are where we are. We have not dwelled on it. If we can put together a run of games, who knows? Hopefully we can go a long way.”
– Alli brilliance -While Chelsea are now 13 points below the Champions League places, with 18 games remaining, Palace finished the weekend five points off the top four in seventh place.
“It is one of those games where we just wipe our nose and move onto the next game,” said manager Alan Pardew, whose side had lost only one of their previous nine league games.
“I have every confidence in this group that we will be in and around the top 10.”
Tottenham occupy the fourth and final Champions League spot following their 1-1 draw at Goodison Park, which prevented them from re-opening a five-point lead over fifth-place Manchester United.
Aaron Lennon put Everton ahead against his former club in the 22nd minute, controlling Romelu Lukaku’s knock-down and lashing a half-volley past Hugo Lloris.
But 19-year-old Spurs midfielder Dele Alli equalised in first-half stoppage time, brilliantly chesting down Toby Alderweireld’s 40-yard pass and guiding a volley into the bottom-right corner.
“It was a great game, very entertaining, and I am pleased for the effort, but at the same time my feeling is we dropped two points,” said Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino.
“Our mentality is strong, we are ambitious. Goodison is a very tough place to come and Everton are a tough team. We need to feel proud. We always try and win the game. Sometimes in football it is not possible.”
Everton, beaten by Leicester City and Stoke City in their two previous home games, remain 11th, nine points below the top four.
“We’ve been a bit lightweight in the way we defended our box, but today was an incredible change,” said Everton manager Roberto Martinez.
“It was a terrific game of football. With a bit more focus on that final pass, we could have taken advantage.”