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Six in a row puts Blues clear at top

By Graham Luney

Antonio Conte hailed Chelsea's win over Middlesbrough as a vital victory in the race to secure the Premier League title.

The Blues shot to the top of the league thanks to Diego Costa's 41st-minute winner at the Riverside yesterday.

With huge showdowns coming up against Tottenham and Manchester City, Chelsea boss Conte saluted his side's sixth win in a row - and sixth successive clean sheet.

"It was very important," he said. "It was very important because these are tricky games.

"Now we have the week to prepare for a tough game against a strong team in Tottenham.

"It was a good performance against a very strong team, they drew with Arsenal and City, for this reason I am pleased with our performance.

"We played a good game, against good opposition, and created many chances to score the second goal. It's important to kill the game."

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