Diego Costa’s 10th Premier League goal of the season brought Chelsea to the top of the league as their sixth straight win saw off Middlesbrough.
After a solid for both sides, Chelsea upped their tempo and deservedly took the lead just before the break when Costa reacted quickest to drill in a loose ball inside the Boro box.
The Blues continued to dominate and create chances, with Pedro going closest when he found the crossbar, while Boro’s best chance came when Alvaro Negredo’s 78th-minute volley was saved.
That was the only time the home side forced Blues keeper Thibaut Courtois into a serious stop as Boro were defeated for the first time in four matches.
Chelsea, who had endured a chastening 3-0 defeat at the hands of Arsenal earlier this season, has won all of their six league matches since without conceding any goals. The measure of their improvement would be tested in upcoming League matches against Tottenham and Manchester City, with fierce fixtures expected as each club contends for dominance in the English top flight.
But as this match ended at 1-0, Boro stays just one point above the relegation zone in 15th place, while Chelsea was able to leapfrog Liverpool and Manchester City to go a point ahead.
Liverpool, who was top of the league before the international break, were perhaps affected by the change in surroundings as they showed a lack of the fluency that had characterised their impressive start to the season. Dropped to second place, the Reds now remain ahead of third-placed Manchester City by virtue of scoring more goals.
City themselves were rescued by the returning Yaya Toure, whose shock selection at Selhurst Park for his first Premier League game this season bore fruit, scoring a brace and winning the match against Crystal Palace.