Glenn Murray’s 82nd-minute goal for Bournemouth condemned Chelsea to their worst defeat of a wretched season on Saturday, while Riyad Mahrez’s hat-trick fired Leicester City top of the Premier League.
A run of three games without defeat in all competitions had suggested an upturn in Chelsea’s fortunes, only for Eddie Howe’s promoted Bournemouth to condemn the champions to their eighth defeat of the campaign.
Murray was the match-winner at Stamford Bridge, scoring 99 seconds after coming on to secure a 1-0 victory and leave Chelsea just three points above the relegation zone and turn the spotlight firmly back onto their manager Jose Mourinho.
“I am concerned, of course,” Mourinho told Sky Sports. “There is no chance that Chelsea will be fighting relegation. That is not the problem. It is that our objective is to finish top four.
“Before this game it was realistic to think that our quality would take us out of this position, but maybe now we have to think about top six.”
Mourinho had again elected to leave Diego Costa on the bench, only to turn to the Spain striker at half-time as the home side looked for a breakthrough.
But it was Murray who settled the game, nodding in from close range after fit-again Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois had come for a corner and missed.
It was Chelsea’s fourth home defeat of a dismal campaign, while Bournemouth were left to celebrate a famous result that lifted them out of the bottom three.
“I thought we were magnificent,” said Howe. “There were question marks about our defending, but we have answered those questions today.”
Mahrez scored three times as Leicester won 3-0 at Swansea City to recapture the summit from Manchester City, who crashed to a 2-0 defeat at Stoke City.
Leicester striker Jamie Vardy was bidding to equal Jimmy Dunne’s 83-year-old English top-flight record by scoring for the 12th game running, but it was Mahrez who stole the show.
The Algerian winger took his tally for the campaign to 10 goals, putting him joint-second behind 14-goal Vardy in the scoring charts and lifting Claudio Ranieri’s men two points clear at the top of the standings.
“Everyone talks about Vardy scoring, but now Mahrez has done so,” said Ranieri.
“It was so pleasing to see that when Jamie had a chance to score, he passed to Mahrez so he could have his hat-trick.”
Arsenal are now Leicester’s nearest rivals after a 3-1 home win over Sunderland, but Manchester United fell off the pace following a goalless draw with West Ham United.
Manchester City were well beaten at a windswept Britannia Stadium, where Stoke prevailed courtesy of a pair of early goals that were each created by Xherdan Shaqiri and finished by Marko Arnautovic.
Manuel Pellegrini’s side were left in third place, three points behind Leicester, while Mark Hughes’s Stoke moved up to 10th.
Arsenal also exploited City’s misstep at Stoke by beating Sunderland, which took Arsene Wenger’s team up to second place.
Missing Alexis Sanchez and Santi Cazorla through injury, Arsenal took a 33rd-minute lead when Mesut Ozil’s 12th assist of the season allowed Joel Campbell to slot home.
Olivier Giroud’s own goal from Yann M’Vila’s free-kick saw Sunderland level, but the Frenchman atoned in the 63rd minute by heading in a cross from Aaron Ramsey, who also found the net in stoppage time.
United were unable to follow Leicester and Arsenal’s lead as their goal-scoring problems resurfaced in a 0-0 draw at home to West Ham that left them level on points with City in fourth place.
Shorn of the injured Wayne Rooney, it was a frustrating outcome for Louis van Gaal’s side, who face Wolfsburg in Germany on Tuesday needing to win to be certain of progressing in the Champions League.
But it could have been even worse, with Winston Reid hitting the post with a header for West Ham and Mauro Zarate shooting wastefully wide from Andy Carroll’s lay-off early in the second half.
“We have to finish better than we did today,” Van Gaal told MUTV.
“You must score out of the kind of chances we created. You need to score, otherwise you cannot win, and it is very frustrating, also for the players because they want to score.”
Fifth-place Tottenham Hotspur also failed to make ground on the teams above them, drawing 1-1 at West Bromwich Albion after James McClean cancelled out Dele Alli’s volleyed 15th-minute opener for Spurs.
Bottom club Aston Villa earned a 1-1 draw at Southampton, while Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo struck as Watford beat Norwich City 2-0.