Premier League: Stylish Chelsea give Conte vote of confidence

Chelsea gave Antonio Conte a well-timed vote of confidence as Diego Costa and Eden Hazard inspired a 3-0 win against spluttering champion...


Chelsea gave Antonio Conte a well-timed vote of confidence as Diego Costa and Eden Hazard inspired a 3-0 win against spluttering champions Leicester on Saturday.

Conte had to endure speculation he was in danger of being sacked just three months into his Chelsea reign after bookmakers suspended betting on his dismissal on Thursday.

While Conte laughed off the story, the Italian -- under fire after disappointing defeats against Liverpool and Arsenal -- is well aware of Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich's ruthless nature when it comes to firing managers.

If there was any doubt in Abramovich's mind about Conte, this confident performance, which gave Chelsea a second successive Premier League victory, gave a glimpse of the potential force the former Italy coach is trying to build.

Costa's seventh league goal of the campaign put Chelsea ahead and Hazard added the second before Victor Moses sealed the rout.

The last time Leicester walked out onto the Stamford Bridge pitch, they were given a guard of honour by Chelsea's players to mark the culmination of their astonishing title triumph.

But Claudio Ranieri's side still seem to be suffering a hangover from those celebrations.

They have made a dismal defence of the title so far and are the first reigning English champions to lose their opening four away games since Blackburn in 1995-96.

Having vowed to rotate his team more often to cope with their hectic schedule, Ranieri left Riyad Mahrez, Islam Slimani and Danny Simpson on the bench ahead of Tuesday's Champions League clash against Copenhagen.

Yet the changes did little to put a spring in Leicester's step and they were on the back foot when Moses smashed over a low cross that almost crept in at the near post.

Kasper Schmeichel had repelled that effort at the expense of a corner, but the Leicester goalkeeper was powerless to prevent Costa putting Chelsea ahead from the seventh minute set-piece.

For the fifth time this season, poor defending from a corner was Leicester's downfall as Nemanja Matic was given space to backheel the cross and, with Foxes captain Wes Morgan reacting too slowly, Costa was left unmarked to finish clinically at the far post. Panicked

play

Chelsea's Brazilian-born Spanish striker Diego Costa runs with the ball during the English Premier League match against Leicester City in London on October 15, 2016 (AFP)

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