Chelsea secured just their fifth win in 17 league games after overcoming fellow strugglers Sunderland 3-1 at Stamford Bridge.
In what was the first game without Jose Mourinho at the helm, two goals in 10 first-half minutes from Branislav Ivanovic and Pedro, as well as a penalty from Oscar were enough to sink the Black Cats, who remain in a relegation battle despite Fabio Borini’s consolation goal.
After several Chelsea players were booed by the home crowd when the lineups were read out, the Blues started strongly, opening the scoring after just five minutes.
A Willian corner from the right was headed into the roof of the net by Ivanovic, who himself was booed pre-game.
The hosts, who announced Guus Hiddink as their interim manager until the end of the season, then doubled their advantage eight minutes later.
Ivanovic became scorer-turned-provider, whipping in a low cross from the right which deflected off Sunderland defender Sebastian Coates, Pedro rifling the ball past Costel Pantillimon in the visiting goal.
Black Cats boss Sam Allardyce brought on midfielder Adam Johnson after just 22 minutes in place of Coates, thus switching to four at the back.
However, it seemed to have little effect as Oscar almost scored after dancing through the Sunderland defence.
The first half passed without further incident, Chelsea bossing th at half time.
Despite the distraction of loud chanting of Mourinho’s name throughout the match, Oscar made amends for his earlier miss by putting the Blues 3-0 up on 50 minutes.
In a swift attack, Willian latched on to Pedro’s pass, rounded and then was caught by the onrushing Pantilimon.
Oscar stepped up and coolly converted to put the game beyond doubt.
However the hosts couldn’t preserve their clean sheet as substitute Borini netted for Allardyce’s men.
Younes Kaboul’s header was fumbled by goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, and Borini was on hand to tap home.
As the game ticked on, Sunderland did indeed threaten a second, Jermain Defoe and Borini both firing wide of goal.
Nonetheless Chelsea held on to their three points, resulting in the perfect start to life without Mourinho.