Cesc Fabregas’ late strike pushed Chelsea past a fighting Watford side 4-3 and the Blues celebrated their Premier League championship with a hard-fought victory at Stamford Bridge.
Retiring captain John Terry, who made his first league start since September, opened the seven-goal thriller with a finish on Kurt Zouma’s assist, but his poor clearance two minutes later allowed Etienne Capoue to equalize.
Cezar Azpilicueta and Michy Batshuayi scored on either side of half-time to give Antonio Conte’s side a 3-1 lead, but Daryl Janmaat and Stefano Okaka struck to make it 3-all with just 16 minutes left in the match.
Fabregas was subbed in on the 79th minute and made a booming impact less than 10 minutes later, as he scored the winner with a screamer from just outside the area.
Watford looked to spoil the Blues’ title party and the game got too rough in injury time, with players getting into each other’s faces that resulted into Sebastian Prodl’s send-off.
Conte, who entered a much-changed lineup in preparation for their FA Cup final against Arsenal in 28 May, said he was happy to win the title and will also go for the record-breaking 30th win as they host Sunderland in the last game day of the season.
“I made a decision to make nine changes and give the chance to start a lot of young players,” said Conte. “I must be pleased because the answer was very good.”
“The most important thing is to win the league. Then if we have the possibility to improve these records, we must try. We can reach this target. The players and I want to reach this target.”
Terry, who announced his retirement midseason, said he is considering to end his playing career with championships, contrary to his earlier statement of looking for other moments of glory with other teams.
“I’ve not ruled out Sunday being my last game and retiring from football,” said Terry, who describe his fifth English top flight title with Chelsea as an “unbelievable” and a feeling that “just gets better and better”.
“It’s a dream ending for me,” said Terry. “And with the FA Cup final still to come, it could turn out to be one of the greatest seasons in the club’s history. If I could have written my story as a 14-year-old, where I signed on the pitch, this would have been it. Thank you to everyone from the bottom of my heart.”
But he is not yet closing his doors to offers, from the Premier League, or even abroad.
“If the right offer comes along I will sit down and consider it with my family – whether that’s here or abroad,” said Terry.
“Genuinely I haven’t made any decisions yet and I’m evaluating all my options at the moment.”